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Nice argument. unfortunately... - great argument however, your mother.

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How can I stop my mother’s constant criticism bringing me down?

Sometimes family patterns become so set that we no longer challenge them, says Annalisa Barbieri. I wonder if there might be a conversation to be had

I love my mother most of the time, but sometimes I hate her. She has always been critical of me; i t’s as if she has to find fault (with my hair, my clothes, the way I do things). My brother is spared this criticism.

My mum is in her late 70s , and unlikely to change. It’s never worth arguing with her – especially now, as she is grieving and vulnerable following the death of my father last year . I suppress my anger, keep quiet and change the subject. I call and visit often, as I now have to help her with legal and financial affairs ; my brother lives abroad and this isn’t his skill set. Mum lives in a different part of the country from me, and it’s not practical to go just for the day, so I am very much on her turf when I visit; if I don’t do things the way she wants, there is an explosion. She then seems to recognise that she has gone over the top and sends sweet emails a day or two later about how capable I am.

What I need is to find a way of not letting it get to me as badly as it does. I suspect that a large part of my hurt probably stems from recognising a lot of both parents in myself, and liking the bits that are all Dad, and not liking the bits of me that are more Mum.

I’m sorry to hear about your dad. Sometimes when one parent dies, you not only miss them but realise how much they diluted the other person’s less positive traits. However, I would be careful of eulogising the parent who died and demonising the one left behind; things are rarely that simple.

It is early days for all of you in your grieving journey, but it’s important to realise that while your mother lost her husband, you lost your dad. Sometimes in families one person can claim all the grief, but you need to grieve, too.

The way you describe your mother, the love and hate, is, psychologist and psychoanalyst Prof Alessandra Lemma ( bpc.org.uk ) said, “completely normal” and yet it’s easy to struggle with that ambivalence.

“It might be helpful,” Lemma said, “to think about the distinction between your actual mother [the one you love and hate] and the mother you’ve internalised in your head [who is always critical]. Because it sounds as if you have strategies for dealing with your actual mother when you are with her, but when you leave you seem to be at the mercy of the critical ‘internal mother’ and you may be left feeling that you haven’t got it quite right.”

This may be why it gets to you so much. It must be exhausting to see her as relentlessly critical even when you’re not with her. If you could try to separate out these “mothers” in your mind, it might help. In the meantime, Lemma suggested you may “need to have a second look at how and where you set the boundaries. Are you taking on too much?” Do you need to go that often if these visits leave you feeling so depleted? What is your brother’s skill set when dealing with your mother? Can he not lighten your load in any way, even remotely?

Perhaps reconsider your idea that “it’s never worth arguing with her”. I am imagining that somewhere along the line you learned that it seemed less painful not to contradict her, and sometimes family patterns become so set that we no longer challenge them. But, as you say, you suppress your anger; where do you think that goes? Our minds are very good at turning quashed anger into other, more corrosive emotions such as resentment, even hate.

It’s good that your mum does try to repair things. I wonder if there might be a conversation to be had there? Could you try – maybe over an email in response to hers – saying something such as, “Why does this always happen? I come to help you but I don’t like it when you speak to me like this, please stop.” I understand you don’t want the explosions, but in order to contain them you have become her emotional sandbag. That’s not fair on you and will be hard to sustain in the long term.

Your mother isn’t young, but late 70s isn’t old, either. It might be worth trying to explain, at least once, how you feel and letting any subsequent explosion be her responsibility to contain. Maybe even saying that if she’s so set on doing things her way, she does them herself.

Every week Annalisa Barbieri addresses a family-related problem sent in by a reader. If you would like advice from Annalisa on a family matter, please send your problem to [email protected] . Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions .

Conversations With Annalisa Barbieri, a new podcast series, is available here .

Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure the discussion remains on the topics raised by the article. Please be aware that there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

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Need to defend your opinion on an issue? Argumentative essays are one of the most popular types of essays you’ll write in school. They combine persuasive arguments with fact-based research, and, when done well, can be powerful tools for making someone agree with your point of view. If you’re struggling to write an argumentative essay or just want to learn more about them, seeing examples can be a big help.

After giving an overview of this type of essay, we provide three argumentative essay examples. After each essay, we explain in-depth how the essay was structured, what worked, and where the essay could be improved. We end with tips for making your own argumentative essay as strong as possible.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is an essay that uses evidence and facts to support the claim it’s making. Its purpose is to persuade the reader to agree with the argument being made.

A good argumentative essay will use facts and evidence to support the argument, rather than just the author’s thoughts and opinions. For example, say you wanted to write an argumentative essay stating that Charleston, SC is a great destination for families. You couldn’t just say that it’s a great place because you took your family there and enjoyed it. For it to be an argumentative essay, you need to have facts and data to support your argument, such as the number of child-friendly attractions in Charleston, special deals you can get with kids, and surveys of people who visited Charleston as a family and enjoyed it. The first argument is based entirely on feelings, whereas the second is based on evidence that can be proven.

The standard five paragraph format is common, but not required, for argumentative essays. These essays typically follow one of two formats: the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model.

  • The Toulmin model is the most common. It begins with an introduction, follows with a thesis/claim, and gives data and evidence to support that claim. This style of essay also includes rebuttals of counterarguments.
  • The Rogerian model analyzes two sides of an argument and reaches a conclusion after weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

3 Good Argumentative Essay Examples + Analysis

Below are three examples of argumentative essays, written by yours truly in my school days, as well as analysis of what each did well and where it could be improved.

Argumentative Essay Example 1

Proponents of this idea state that it will save local cities and towns money because libraries are expensive to maintain. They also believe it will encourage more people to read because they won’t have to travel to a library to get a book; they can simply click on what they want to read and read it from wherever they are. They could also access more materials because libraries won’t have to buy physical copies of books; they can simply rent out as many digital copies as they need.

However, it would be a serious mistake to replace libraries with tablets. First, digital books and resources are associated with less learning and more problems than print resources. A study done on tablet vs book reading found that people read 20-30% slower on tablets, retain 20% less information, and understand 10% less of what they read compared to people who read the same information in print. Additionally, staring too long at a screen has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including blurred vision, dizziness, dry eyes, headaches, and eye strain, at much higher instances than reading print does. People who use tablets and mobile devices excessively also have a higher incidence of more serious health issues such as fibromyalgia, shoulder and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle strain. I know that whenever I read from my e-reader for too long, my eyes begin to feel tired and my neck hurts. We should not add to these problems by giving people, especially young people, more reasons to look at screens.

Second, it is incredibly narrow-minded to assume that the only service libraries offer is book lending. Libraries have a multitude of benefits, and many are only available if the library has a physical location. Some of these benefits include acting as a quiet study space, giving people a way to converse with their neighbors, holding classes on a variety of topics, providing jobs, answering patron questions, and keeping the community connected. One neighborhood found that, after a local library instituted community events such as play times for toddlers and parents, job fairs for teenagers, and meeting spaces for senior citizens, over a third of residents reported feeling more connected to their community. Similarly, a Pew survey conducted in 2015 found that nearly two-thirds of American adults feel that closing their local library would have a major impact on their community. People see libraries as a way to connect with others and get their questions answered, benefits tablets can’t offer nearly as well or as easily.

While replacing libraries with tablets may seem like a simple solution, it would encourage people to spend even more time looking at digital screens, despite the myriad issues surrounding them. It would also end access to many of the benefits of libraries that people have come to rely on. In many areas, libraries are such an important part of the community network that they could never be replaced by a simple object.

The author begins by giving an overview of the counter-argument, then the thesis appears as the first sentence in the third paragraph. The essay then spends the rest of the paper dismantling the counter argument and showing why readers should believe the other side.

What this essay does well:

  • Although it’s a bit unusual to have the thesis appear fairly far into the essay, it works because, once the thesis is stated, the rest of the essay focuses on supporting it since the counter-argument has already been discussed earlier in the paper.
  • This essay includes numerous facts and cites studies to support its case. By having specific data to rely on, the author’s argument is stronger and readers will be more inclined to agree with it.
  • For every argument the other side makes, the author makes sure to refute it and follow up with why her opinion is the stronger one. In order to make a strong argument, it’s important to dismantle the other side, which this essay does this by making the author's view appear stronger.
  • This is a shorter paper, and if it needed to be expanded to meet length requirements, it could include more examples and go more into depth with them, such as by explaining specific cases where people benefited from local libraries.
  • Additionally, while the paper uses lots of data, the author also mentions their own experience with using tablets. This should be removed since argumentative essays focus on facts and data to support an argument, not the author’s own opinion or experiences. Replacing that with more data on health issues associated with screen time would strengthen the essay.
  • Some of the points made aren't completely accurate , particularly the one about digital books being cheaper. It actually often costs a library more money to rent out numerous digital copies of a book compared to buying a single physical copy. Make sure in your own essay you thoroughly research each of the points and rebuttals you make, otherwise you'll look like you don't know the issue that well.

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Argumentative Essay Example 2

There are multiple drugs available to treat malaria, and many of them work well and save lives, but malaria eradication programs that focus too much on them and not enough on prevention haven’t seen long-term success in Sub-Saharan Africa. A major program to combat malaria was WHO’s Global Malaria Eradication Programme. Started in 1955, it had a goal of eliminating malaria in Africa within the next ten years. Based upon previously successful programs in Brazil and the United States, the program focused mainly on vector control. This included widely distributing chloroquine and spraying large amounts of DDT. More than one billion dollars was spent trying to abolish malaria. However, the program suffered from many problems and in 1969, WHO was forced to admit that the program had not succeeded in eradicating malaria. The number of people in Sub-Saharan Africa who contracted malaria as well as the number of malaria deaths had actually increased over 10% during the time the program was active.

One of the major reasons for the failure of the project was that it set uniform strategies and policies. By failing to consider variations between governments, geography, and infrastructure, the program was not nearly as successful as it could have been. Sub-Saharan Africa has neither the money nor the infrastructure to support such an elaborate program, and it couldn’t be run the way it was meant to. Most African countries don't have the resources to send all their people to doctors and get shots, nor can they afford to clear wetlands or other malaria prone areas. The continent’s spending per person for eradicating malaria was just a quarter of what Brazil spent. Sub-Saharan Africa simply can’t rely on a plan that requires more money, infrastructure, and expertise than they have to spare.

Additionally, the widespread use of chloroquine has created drug resistant parasites which are now plaguing Sub-Saharan Africa. Because chloroquine was used widely but inconsistently, mosquitoes developed resistance, and chloroquine is now nearly completely ineffective in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 95% of mosquitoes resistant to it. As a result, newer, more expensive drugs need to be used to prevent and treat malaria, which further drives up the cost of malaria treatment for a region that can ill afford it.

Instead of developing plans to treat malaria after the infection has incurred, programs should focus on preventing infection from occurring in the first place. Not only is this plan cheaper and more effective, reducing the number of people who contract malaria also reduces loss of work/school days which can further bring down the productivity of the region.

One of the cheapest and most effective ways of preventing malaria is to implement insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs).  These nets provide a protective barrier around the person or people using them. While untreated bed nets are still helpful, those treated with insecticides are much more useful because they stop mosquitoes from biting people through the nets, and they help reduce mosquito populations in a community, thus helping people who don’t even own bed nets.  Bed nets are also very effective because most mosquito bites occur while the person is sleeping, so bed nets would be able to drastically reduce the number of transmissions during the night. In fact, transmission of malaria can be reduced by as much as 90% in areas where the use of ITNs is widespread. Because money is so scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa, the low cost is a great benefit and a major reason why the program is so successful. Bed nets cost roughly 2 USD to make, last several years, and can protect two adults. Studies have shown that, for every 100-1000 more nets are being used, one less child dies of malaria. With an estimated 300 million people in Africa not being protected by mosquito nets, there’s the potential to save three million lives by spending just a few dollars per person.

Reducing the number of people who contract malaria would also reduce poverty levels in Africa significantly, thus improving other aspects of society like education levels and the economy. Vector control is more effective than treatment strategies because it means fewer people are getting sick. When fewer people get sick, the working population is stronger as a whole because people are not put out of work from malaria, nor are they caring for sick relatives. Malaria-afflicted families can typically only harvest 40% of the crops that healthy families can harvest. Additionally, a family with members who have malaria spends roughly a quarter of its income treatment, not including the loss of work they also must deal with due to the illness. It’s estimated that malaria costs Africa 12 billion USD in lost income every year. A strong working population creates a stronger economy, which Sub-Saharan Africa is in desperate need of.  

This essay begins with an introduction, which ends with the thesis (that malaria eradication plans in Sub-Saharan Africa should focus on prevention rather than treatment). The first part of the essay lays out why the counter argument (treatment rather than prevention) is not as effective, and the second part of the essay focuses on why prevention of malaria is the better path to take.

  • The thesis appears early, is stated clearly, and is supported throughout the rest of the essay. This makes the argument clear for readers to understand and follow throughout the essay.
  • There’s lots of solid research in this essay, including specific programs that were conducted and how successful they were, as well as specific data mentioned throughout. This evidence helps strengthen the author’s argument.
  • The author makes a case for using expanding bed net use over waiting until malaria occurs and beginning treatment, but not much of a plan is given for how the bed nets would be distributed or how to ensure they’re being used properly. By going more into detail of what she believes should be done, the author would be making a stronger argument.
  • The introduction of the essay does a good job of laying out the seriousness of the problem, but the conclusion is short and abrupt. Expanding it into its own paragraph would give the author a final way to convince readers of her side of the argument.

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Argumentative Essay Example 3

There are many ways payments could work. They could be in the form of a free-market approach, where athletes are able to earn whatever the market is willing to pay them, it could be a set amount of money per athlete, or student athletes could earn income from endorsements, autographs, and control of their likeness, similar to the way top Olympians earn money.

Proponents of the idea believe that, because college athletes are the ones who are training, participating in games, and bringing in audiences, they should receive some sort of compensation for their work. If there were no college athletes, the NCAA wouldn’t exist, college coaches wouldn’t receive there (sometimes very high) salaries, and brands like Nike couldn’t profit from college sports. In fact, the NCAA brings in roughly $1 billion in revenue a year, but college athletes don’t receive any of that money in the form of a paycheck. Additionally, people who believe college athletes should be paid state that paying college athletes will actually encourage them to remain in college longer and not turn pro as quickly, either by giving them a way to begin earning money in college or requiring them to sign a contract stating they’ll stay at the university for a certain number of years while making an agreed-upon salary.  

Supporters of this idea point to Zion Williamson, the Duke basketball superstar, who, during his freshman year, sustained a serious knee injury. Many argued that, even if he enjoyed playing for Duke, it wasn’t worth risking another injury and ending his professional career before it even began for a program that wasn’t paying him. Williamson seems to have agreed with them and declared his eligibility for the NCAA draft later that year. If he was being paid, he may have stayed at Duke longer. In fact, roughly a third of student athletes surveyed stated that receiving a salary while in college would make them “strongly consider” remaining collegiate athletes longer before turning pro.

Paying athletes could also stop the recruitment scandals that have plagued the NCAA. In 2018, the NCAA stripped the University of Louisville's men's basketball team of its 2013 national championship title because it was discovered coaches were using sex workers to entice recruits to join the team. There have been dozens of other recruitment scandals where college athletes and recruits have been bribed with anything from having their grades changed, to getting free cars, to being straight out bribed. By paying college athletes and putting their salaries out in the open, the NCAA could end the illegal and underhanded ways some schools and coaches try to entice athletes to join.

People who argue against the idea of paying college athletes believe the practice could be disastrous for college sports. By paying athletes, they argue, they’d turn college sports into a bidding war, where only the richest schools could afford top athletes, and the majority of schools would be shut out from developing a talented team (though some argue this already happens because the best players often go to the most established college sports programs, who typically pay their coaches millions of dollars per year). It could also ruin the tight camaraderie of many college teams if players become jealous that certain teammates are making more money than they are.

They also argue that paying college athletes actually means only a small fraction would make significant money. Out of the 350 Division I athletic departments, fewer than a dozen earn any money. Nearly all the money the NCAA makes comes from men’s football and basketball, so paying college athletes would make a small group of men--who likely will be signed to pro teams and begin making millions immediately out of college--rich at the expense of other players.

Those against paying college athletes also believe that the athletes are receiving enough benefits already. The top athletes already receive scholarships that are worth tens of thousands per year, they receive free food/housing/textbooks, have access to top medical care if they are injured, receive top coaching, get travel perks and free gear, and can use their time in college as a way to capture the attention of professional recruiters. No other college students receive anywhere near as much from their schools.

People on this side also point out that, while the NCAA brings in a massive amount of money each year, it is still a non-profit organization. How? Because over 95% of those profits are redistributed to its members’ institutions in the form of scholarships, grants, conferences, support for Division II and Division III teams, and educational programs. Taking away a significant part of that revenue would hurt smaller programs that rely on that money to keep running.

While both sides have good points, it’s clear that the negatives of paying college athletes far outweigh the positives. College athletes spend a significant amount of time and energy playing for their school, but they are compensated for it by the scholarships and perks they receive. Adding a salary to that would result in a college athletic system where only a small handful of athletes (those likely to become millionaires in the professional leagues) are paid by a handful of schools who enter bidding wars to recruit them, while the majority of student athletics and college athletic programs suffer or even shut down for lack of money. Continuing to offer the current level of benefits to student athletes makes it possible for as many people to benefit from and enjoy college sports as possible.

This argumentative essay follows the Rogerian model. It discusses each side, first laying out multiple reasons people believe student athletes should be paid, then discussing reasons why the athletes shouldn’t be paid. It ends by stating that college athletes shouldn’t be paid by arguing that paying them would destroy college athletics programs and cause them to have many of the issues professional sports leagues have.

  • Both sides of the argument are well developed, with multiple reasons why people agree with each side. It allows readers to get a full view of the argument and its nuances.
  • Certain statements on both sides are directly rebuffed in order to show where the strengths and weaknesses of each side lie and give a more complete and sophisticated look at the argument.
  • Using the Rogerian model can be tricky because oftentimes you don’t explicitly state your argument until the end of the paper. Here, the thesis doesn’t appear until the first sentence of the final paragraph. That doesn’t give readers a lot of time to be convinced that your argument is the right one, compared to a paper where the thesis is stated in the beginning and then supported throughout the paper. This paper could be strengthened if the final paragraph was expanded to more fully explain why the author supports the view, or if the paper had made it clearer that paying athletes was the weaker argument throughout.

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3 Tips for Writing a Good Argumentative Essay

Now that you’ve seen examples of what good argumentative essay samples look like, follow these three tips when crafting your own essay.

#1: Make Your Thesis Crystal Clear

The thesis is the key to your argumentative essay; if it isn’t clear or readers can’t find it easily, your entire essay will be weak as a result. Always make sure that your thesis statement is easy to find. The typical spot for it is the final sentence of the introduction paragraph, but if it doesn’t fit in that spot for your essay, try to at least put it as the first or last sentence of a different paragraph so it stands out more.

Also make sure that your thesis makes clear what side of the argument you’re on. After you’ve written it, it’s a great idea to show your thesis to a couple different people--classmates are great for this. Just by reading your thesis they should be able to understand what point you’ll be trying to make with the rest of your essay.

#2: Show Why the Other Side Is Weak

When writing your essay, you may be tempted to ignore the other side of the argument and just focus on your side, but don’t do this. The best argumentative essays really tear apart the other side to show why readers shouldn’t believe it. Before you begin writing your essay, research what the other side believes, and what their strongest points are. Then, in your essay, be sure to mention each of these and use evidence to explain why they’re incorrect/weak arguments. That’ll make your essay much more effective than if you only focused on your side of the argument.

#3: Use Evidence to Support Your Side

Remember, an essay can’t be an argumentative essay if it doesn’t support its argument with evidence. For every point you make, make sure you have facts to back it up. Some examples are previous studies done on the topic, surveys of large groups of people, data points, etc. There should be lots of numbers in your argumentative essay that support your side of the argument. This will make your essay much stronger compared to only relying on your own opinions to support your argument.

Summary: Argumentative Essay Sample

Argumentative essays are persuasive essays that use facts and evidence to support their side of the argument. Most argumentative essays follow either the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model. By reading good argumentative essay examples, you can learn how to develop your essay and provide enough support to make readers agree with your opinion. When writing your essay, remember to always make your thesis clear, show where the other side is weak, and back up your opinion with data and evidence.

What's Next?

Do you need to write an argumentative essay as well?  Check out our guide on the best argumentative essay topics for ideas!

You'll probably also need to write research papers for school.  We've got you covered with 113 potential topics for research papers.

Your college admissions essay may end up being one of the most important essays you write. Follow our step-by-step guide on writing a personal statement to have an essay that'll impress colleges.

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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How to Resolve an Argument with Your Mother

Published by graham stoney on february 4, 2012 february 4, 2012.

I just got this question about resolving an argument with your mother in response to my article on How to Recover From a Controlling Mother . Steve asks:

I just got off the phone with my mother who was berating me because I had not responded in a timely fashion to an email, which made her ashamed and disappointed. I went to my computer and looked up “how to deal with a controlling mother”. Your article looked interesting so I began to read it, and as I did my eyes opened up as if you were speaking directly to me! I would love to speak with her about these things, and also with my father, but her defense is locked down tight: she is a psychologist of many years, and would just discredit anything I had to say. She also insists that my father would not want to talk to me about anything on an emotional level (he really doesn’t like to be dragged in between us), and therefore I shouldn’t bother. I also run the risk of making her angry, which is VERY easy to do, and then I worry that I’m hurting her. Just writing this really exposes to myself the psychological mire I exist in… Advice?

This is a great question Steve so thanks for putting it out there. Our relationship with our mother can have such a powerful controlling influence over us and really undermine our self-confidence. Most men are reluctant to admit how powerfully influential our mothers still are even long into adulthood, and this can have a massive effect on eroding our sense of self.

It's important to stand your ground and be assertive when resolving an argument with your mother.

It’s important to stand your ground and be assertive when resolving an argument with your mother.

Mother issues are a very common problem for men (and women!) who lack self-confidence. Just yesterday I was on the phone with a friend whose childhood was dominated by his mother and other women around him. My [intlink id=”480″ type=”post”]controlling mother[/intlink] article consistently gets more hits every day than anything else on this site. It’s a big problem.

We grow up emotionally attached and enmeshed with our mothers, and controlling mothers resist the normal detachment process that begins during adolescence. When mothers complain about their adolescent boy’s bad behavior, what they’re really feeling is the normal pain of separation that parents go through as we individuate and become men. A mother with insight will grin and bear this pain as she allows you to separate; but many parents lack this insight and try to maintain control. A power struggle results, which is particularly intense when each side has their self-esteem invested in maintaining control (for her) and gaining freedom (for you).

You might think that a psychologist would have a better insight into this than most; what I’m talking about is basic attachment theory and she’s almost certainly read Bowlby’s work on it. But we never see our own emotional responses objectively so the fact that she should be an expert in this kind of thing isn’t really relevant. In fact I’ve noticed amongst my friends with psychologists as parents that they often seem worse at this kind of thing. Your mother may feel extra defensive when her relationships aren’t working well since she’s supposed to be an expert; perhaps you’re projecting higher expectations onto her due to her expertise; or perhaps she became a psychologist in the first place because she had issues to work through and it’s still a work in progress. Either way it doesn’t matter; forget about her being a psychologist and start looking at her as just another fragile, defensive human being who is herself hurting as much as she’s hurting you.

Going through a period of conflict where you learn to stand up to your mother is a normal and necessary part of developing your individual identity as a man. Ideally it happens during adolescence, but in the case of a controlling or hostile parent it’s understandable that we avoid conflict like the plague. From my experience, it doesn’t matter how long you delay or avoid this conflict: it doesn’t go away until you really face it and stand up to her. It seems to be just an unavoidable part of life, but there are a few things you can do to make the conflict more bearable.

The most important thing is to learn to tolerate your mother’s emotional state regardless of whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, while you also learn to express how you feel in a constructive way. Over time you can learn to be less emotionally meshed with her and transition from a parent/child relationship to an adult/adult relationship which is more fulfilling for both of you. I’ve done this really well with my father; with my mother it’s a work-in-progress, but it seems to be getting there.

I had a similar experience on the phone with my mother last year where she got extremely angry with me after I rescheduled a lunch outing at the last minute because I had a bad headache. It was very heavy going, and I could see that the anger she was showing me was out of proportion to what had actually happened, so something else had to be going on. For the first time I could remember, I actually acknowledged her anger rather than avoiding going there. All I had to say was “You sound angry” in response to a few of her comments, and her anger appeared to skyrocket. Previously I would have just avoided this and skirted around it, but this time I wanted to face it full-on.

People who are easily angered typically have a backlog of unexpressed and unprocessed emotions which are unleashed on unsuspecting family members when they do something that upsets them. The truth is that you can’t make your mother angry. What happens is we do things they don’t like, and they have an emotional response. If they’re self-aware, they’ll own this response and say “I feel angry when you do that”. But self-aware people don’t become hostile and controlling in the first place, so you may need to model assertive communication of emotions for her. In my conversation with my mother, I said to her “I feel really nervous saying this, but you sound really angry with me and I’d like to hear what’s really going on for you?” She hung up on me three times as I kept ringing back to get to the bottom of the what she was really upset about.

I knew that after 77 years feeling ashamed of how she really felt, my mother wasn’t likely to go along with this new way of communicating easily, but it was still really important to me to be direct with her and ask what the real problem was. It turned out that rescheduling the lunch date was just the tip of the ice-berg. She was angry about a lot of things, and most of them didn’t even involve me. My mother has a store of resentment towards my father that she projects onto me; it’s a dead give-away because she uses his name whenever she’s at the height of anger at me. You don’t have to study psychology to see that this is displaced anger: my mother is angry with my father, but is too afraid to express it in her closest relationship, so she fires it at me instead where the stakes aren’t as high.

The challenge is standing up to dysfunctional behavior from your mother and responding with your true emotions regardless of whether it goes well or not. We build confidence by exercising courage in situations like this. Courage is the willingness to take action even when we don’t know how it will go. When I stood up to my mother by acknowledging my fear and her anger, it didn’t appear to go well. She went even deeper into her anger and then my father weighed in as well. He’s also afraid of her anger, so it’s easier for him to get angry with me for “upsetting her” than it is to back me in doing what’s best for the relationships between us all: acknowledge each other’s true feelings.

You know you’re a man when you’re isolated like this and doing the right thing by everyone anyway, regardless of their childish resistance. No-one said growing up would be easy; that’s why so many men are still children walking around in a man’s body.

If you find your mother’s emotions overwhelming, you may need to put some emotional distance between the two of you. Many men move cities or countries for a while in order to add physical space between them and their mothers on the pretext of moving “for work”. Don’t expect her to be happy about this, but you’ll notice how much better she treats you on your occasional visit back home. Stay too long though and you’ll probably regress back to parent/child again. Moving away is only a stop-gap measure, but it can give you the space to build your confidence without her constant influence undermining the everyday gains you make. On the other hand, simply running away from the problem won’t help because we all take the baggage from our mothers into our relationships with women until we really deal with it.

Note that unless you’re doing things that are deliberately hurtful and vindictive, you aren’t “making your mother angry” or “hurting her” when you acknowledge her feelings and allow her to feel them more deeply. That’s just how feelings work: when another person acknowledges how we feel, it gives us permission to go deeper into our emotions. Not only is this a healing thing, it’s also the basis of intimacy in all our relationships.

The normal separation and individuation process we go through in growing from a boy to a man is inherently painful for mothers, and that’s part of what she signed up for when she became a parent. You can’t tip-toe around this or protect her from it if you want to be your own man. We all have to learn to do what’s right even in the face of resistance from our parents, and this is particularly difficult when they’re used to exercising control over us emotionally.

When someone affects you emotionally, you give your power away to them. This can be a positive thing when we fall in love with a woman, and it can be challenging when our parents use emotion to manipulate us. But nobody can affect you emotionally without you letting them do so. And the same goes for your mother: you don’t “make her angry”. You do your thing and when it triggers her insecurities, she responds with anger because in the past that was an effective way of stopping you doing whatever reminded her of her unhealed pain.

Circumstances that create an emotional reaction in us typically do so because they remind us of an unpleasant event in our past that we need to work through. You can’t force your mother to do the hard work of healing emotional pain from her past, but you can’t really be free by tip-toeing around it either. The key to emotional healing is to stop avoiding unpleasant emotions, so you’re actually doing your mother a favor whenever you do the things that make her angry… provided you’re doing them because they are the right thing to do, and not out of malice. Her anger isn’t really about you at all; it’s just a projection of some hurt in her past. Each time she goes to the pain, she has the opportunity to heal it. If you learn to be steadfast and meet her anger with love, it will soften over time. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll have learned to stand up for your emotional truth in the face of a woman’s volatility; and other women will love you for this.

I don’t pretend that this is easy. I was stressed out and tense for at least 3 days after the argument I had with my mother. I’m still learning to unmesh emotionally from her. I also had fallout with my father to deal with: we ended up having a conversation where I told him I was upset with him for getting angry with me, that I wasn’t perfect and needed to be free to make mistakes, and that I didn’t want to keep relating to either of them by avoiding how we all feel. He apologized and started asking me how I thought he should deal with her moods. Talk about irony. My advice to him was much the same as what I’m saying here: learn to identify how she feels, reflect that back to her, and acknowledge how you feel. Stop avoiding her emotions. This is the basis of emotional intimacy, and it takes time to learn to do it when we’re out of practice.

Interestingly enough, despite a lack of apology from my mother, she has been treating me with greater respect since our “argument”. I wouldn’t say I handled the situation perfectly, but the main thing I did differently was I acknowledged how she was feeling, and I sought to understand what was really going on behind that rather than getting defensive about it. I suspect my mother felt quite embarrassed about what she said to me on the phone but is too ashamed about it to offer an apology.

I could bear a grudge and feel resentful towards her, but shortly after my conversation I was thinking about how people in my family seem to deliberately withhold what other people want from them. It’s like we all know what each other wants, but we don’t give it to them because we know they want it. What’s with that? I started feeling angry with my parents and siblings. Then it occurred to me that I was doing exactly the same thing with my mother. I know what she wants from me: a quick phone call roughly once a week just to see how she is, with no other agenda. But I don’t give it to her.

I had a bunch of excuses for why I didn’t do this, but it really boiled down to a self-righteous attitude that she didn’t deserve it. She doesn’t give me what I want (emotional support, warmth, kindness) so why should I give her what she wants? Pretty petty really. So I thought to myself: what would happen if I were to drop my self-righteousness and just start giving her what she wanted? I began calling her regularly just to see how she was. And what do you know: she started responding to me with warmth and kindness instead of criticism, hostility and anger.

I also recommend that you don’t get involved in discussions about your father with your mother, or vice-versa. Don’t try to drag your father into what’s going on between you and your mother, and don’t bitch to your father about her either. The closest allegiance a married person has is to their spouse so if being true to yourself triggers your mother’s fear and anger, it’s natural that she’ll want your father on her side rather than yours. Let it be. Remember that to really be your own man, you need to be able to stand true in the face of criticism, judgment, anger or whatever from your father too. This is part of transitioning from father/son to adult/adult in that relationship. Get support from other men so that your father isn’t caught in a parental love triangle; it’s no wonder he hates being in this position.

Doing all of this requires self-awareness and emotional healing for your past hurts. Otherwise you remain vulnerable to your mother’s moods. I don’t recommend attempting this healing with your parents initially; they’re too close to the action and are likely to be triggered by your attempts to heal your own stuff. I’ve done a lot of [intlink id=”181″ type=”category”]different types of therapy[/intlink] to deal with the anxiety I inherited from my parents and emotional healing was really crucial for me. Exposing our psychological mire is precisely what we need to do in order to heal the shame that is beneath it, so good on you Steve for going there. Be patient with yourself because this stuff is dealing with really core issues that can take time to heal.

The ultimate destination is to be able to show your mother love and kindness regardless of how she acts towards you. That’s what they mean by unconditional love. Any man can love the lovable; it’s loving the unlovable that makes you a hero and sets you free. This requires us to deal with our own emotional baggage sufficiently that we don’t get triggered and overwhelmed by hers. Then we can be free to weather the storms of our mother’s emotional state so that we can act with personal integrity. Hard as it may be to believe, she’ll end up being grateful for your ability to do this and you’ll end up copping less hostility from her. Or even if she doesn’t, it won’t affect you as much and this skill will be brilliant in your relationships with women. Either way you’re a winner.

You’re on the right track, so hang in there. For more on transitioning from a mother/boy to woman/man relationship with your mother, see Step 8 in Confident Man : Forgive Your Mother .

Build your self-confidence faster with The Confident Man Program

good argument but your mother

Graham Stoney

I struggled for years with low self-esteem, anxiety and a lack of self-confidence before finding a solution that really worked. I created The Confident Man Program to help other men live the life of their dreams. I also offer 1-on-1 coaching via Skype so if you related to this article contact me about coaching .

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Matt · March 12, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I’ve now read both this article and the article, ‘How to Recover From a Controlling Mother,’ and I have to admit, Graham, that I’m certainly one of those who had NO IDEA that men struggled so much with controlling mothers!

I was always under the idea that the father/son dynamic would cause the most headaches when it came to growing as a man, emotionally, but your two articles have really put a new spin on it for me.

Brilliant to see also that people are feeling that they can reach out and approach you with their issues. I think that has a great to do with your personable writing style.

good argument but your mother

Graham Stoney · March 13, 2012 at 11:36 am

I think this is an even bigger deal when the father/son dynamic isn’t strong; which often happens if you have a passive father. Unfortunately a passive father and controlling mother often tend to team up and give a double-whammy blow to a man’s confidence. Cheers, Graham

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Frances Amaroux · February 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Excellent article Graham!! Wonderful, balanced, realistic advice. So important for all of us to deal with our families of origin. And especially important for men to deal with their mother stuff if they want to be in a mature relationship. Its slightly different for women and fathers, as the fathers usually had less of a parenting input than mothers.

Graham Stoney · February 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Thanks Frances; I really appreciate the positive feedback. This article sure hits a lot of buttons for me! Cheers, Graham

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How to Settle an Argument with Your Parents

Last Updated: April 10, 2023

This article was co-authored by Jin S. Kim, MA . Jin Kim is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based out of Los Angeles, California. Jin specializes in working with LGBTQ individuals, people of color, and those that may have challenges related to reconciling multiple and intersectional identities. Jin received his Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, with a specialization in LGBT-Affirming Psychology, in 2015. This article has been viewed 44,714 times.

Parents and their children often disagree. Everything from curfew to dinner is fair game for an argument. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s best interest to be open to hearing both sides, reach an agreeable compromise, and move on with life. Arguments are inevitable, but settling them is a must for both parents and their kids. The best way for arguments to be settled is for both sides to make their points respectfully, be willing to compromise, and accept the outcomes.

Making Your Point Respectfully

  • Ask your parents if it's a good time to talk. For example, say, "I really want to talk to you about something when you have a free moment."

Step 2 Listen to your parents’ point of view.

  • For example, if your parents’ think that going out every Friday night will interfere with you spending time with the family, you might address their concern by saying something like “I know that family time is important, but I need time to be myself, too. Plus, I will be home every Sunday afternoon for family dinner.”
  • For example, say, "I understand that you want me to have a 9:00 p.m. curfew for my own safety, but I'm old enough to stay out later and have proven that I'm responsible on nights that you have let me come home later."
  • Emphasize what you've done that should reduce their concerns.

Step 4 Use “I” statements to express yourself.

  • An example of expressing yourself through an “I” statement would be to say something such as “I feel like I get to go out much less than other people my age,” rather than saying “You never let me go out as much as my friends go out.”
  • You may need to take time to reflect on your feelings and why you are feeling this way.
  • Explain your feelings to your parents in a respectful manner, and repeat them if you don't feel that your parents understood the first time. For example, you may say, "I feel really hurt that you don't think I'm responsible enough to participate in the decision-making process."

Step 5 Remain calm.

  • Instead of raising your voice to talk over your parents, listen carefully to what they are saying and then reply in a calm tone with something like “I understand your concerns, but let me explain my side, please.”

Step 6 Stay on topic.

  • For example, you should not call your grandmother and have her tell your parents to let you go out tonight.
  • Do not bring up last week’s discussion about doing dishes as a focus on whether or not you can go out tonight. Things like “You always do this to me. You were awful to me last week about the dishes, and now you’re being awful to me about going out with my friends!” will only escalate the argument and divert the conversation.

Reaching Compromises

Step 1 Avoid personal attacks.

  • Attacks like “You are the worst parents ever! I hate you!” have no place in any argument. Instead, try things like “I know you think that this is the best decision for me, but I disagree.”

Step 2 Offer ideas that are mutually beneficial.

  • You might say, for example, “I know that you are afraid that my grades will suffer if I play a sport, but I will commit to studying an extra hour every Saturday and Sunday if you let me play.”

Step 3 Keep your requests reasonable.

  • You might say, for example, "I understand that you don't want me to stay overnight for Rachel's party because you're worried we'll get into trouble. What if I stay until midnight, and then you pick me up? I could also check in via text and have Rachel's mom call you."

Step 5 Resolve the conversation before ending it.

Accepting the Outcomes

Step 1 Understand your parents’ perspective.

  • For example, you might not agree that having a curfew is necessary at all, but this does not mean that your parents are wrong for instating a curfew.

Step 2 Let the argument go.

  • For example, after arguing over the time of curfew, you should not continue to be mad at your parents the next day.

Step 3 Start making your case for the next argument.

  • An example might be to say something like "I still do not think that I need a curfew, but I understand why you want me to have one, and I'll follow the rules."

Step 4 Avoid future arguments.

  • For example, if you'd like to stay out after curfew on Friday night because there is a school dance, explain the situation to your parents. Calmly mention that the dance runs until after curfew, and that you'd like to be there and will come straight home after.

Expert Q&A

Jin S. Kim, MA

  • After you've made up, remember to be very conscious through the rest of the day. If you get into another argument, it will be worse than the first time. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Living with arguments is difficult, try and get it sorted as soon as possible! It will affect you in the long run and although it may seem daunting to approach your parents, once it’s sorted you'll be glad you did! Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • While explaining your side of the story, remember not to sound like you are right and they are wrong. Be open to listen to them. Thanks Helpful 45 Not Helpful 5
  • You may disagree with your parents, but they have the final word. Thanks Helpful 9 Not Helpful 5

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  • ↑ http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/tips-disagree.html?WT.ac=t-ra
  • ↑ Jin S. Kim, MA. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Expert Interview. 14 May 2019.
  • ↑ http://www.teenissues.co.uk/arguingwithparents.html
  • ↑ http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/fight.html#

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I've had an argument with my mother - how can I make up with her?

Relate counsellor christine northam suggests how to extend the olive branch to your mother after a rift , article bookmarked.

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If your heart is sinking at the thought of Mother’s Day because you don’t get on with your mother, try to take some comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

In a recent study by Relate, Marriage Care and Relationships Scotland, 22 per cent of people said they didn't have a good relationship with their mother. And if you are like that fifth of people, Mother’s Day can feel lonely and upsetting. Often people who don’t get on with their mums feel like they’re going against societal norms. The expectation is that you should love and accept your mother as she is and be the dutiful child. However, the reality is that some parents can’t or sometimes simply don’t put their children’s needs before their own.

For some people with a truly toxic relationship with their mother it might be emotionally healthier for them to create a safe distance. That’s an incredibly difficult decision to make, so if I work with people who feel they should do that, we explore all the angles and implications of the issue to make sure that when and if they decide to take action, the decision is thoroughly thought through rather than an emotional reaction.

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If you feel that your relationship with your mother upsets you and there are things you’d like to make her aware of, then this Sunday probably isn’t the best time to try it. It’s a day fraught with emotion and, as with Christmas, birthdays and weddings, everything is much more intense. So I’d suggest you just try to get through the day as best you can. Perhaps sit in the car before going in with gift, take some deep breaths and promise yourself you won’t bite bacl when your mother says something that usually infuriates you. Family games, as we counsellors call them, can’t work if one of you won’t play ball. I f she’s always critical and you’re defensive, refuse to play the game.

Instead, think about what you can reasonably do to acknowledge Mother’s Day without it causing you too much stress and strain. Then if you do want to repair the relationship, there are some steps you can take after Sunday.

Assess your situation

Firstly you need to take responsibility for yourself. You have to face the reality of how your mother is and not how you may wish she’d be. Being real about your parents is part of growing up. If you have children of your own, learning from your parent’s past mistakes can help you to be a better parent yourself. If you can acknowledge and understand how your mother and father figures parented and how it impacted on you, it can help you to avoid repeating history. What’s great about focusing on this is that it puts you in a position to make a choice of how you want to be, and that’s really positive.

Be honest with her

We all owe it to ourselves to try to achieve the utmost emotional health we can. So if your relationship with your mother is 70 percent OK but there are niggles, you might feel confident enough to sit down and talk it through with her.

Explain gently and honestly how you feel, but without being accusatory or blaming. Say something like: “I find our relationship difficult at times - shall we chat this through, see if we can improve it for both of us?” That is much more likely to work than barging in and having a go at her.

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Don't feel guilty.

It’s worth trying to improve your relationship with your mother if you possibly can. But if it still doesn’t work out, at least you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that you tried.

Some children feel that they’re in some way set up to fail by their mothers – there’s absolutely nothing they can ever do to please her. If that’s you, think about seeing a counsellor to get some help dealing with this, as it’s very hard to face alone. If the relationship is so toxic that it’s damaging you into adulthood, you may need permission to break off contact with your mother entirely. Again, a counsellor is someone who can give you that "permission" and sometimes that’s all that people need.

See life from her perspective

For those who feel their relationship isn’t beyond repair, try to remember that there are usually reasons behind why people act in the way they do. Perhaps your mother’s relationship with her own parents wasn’t all that it could’ve been. Maybe your mum didn’t achieve everything she hoped to in life and that’s why she pushed you so hard at school. Trying to understand what causes her to act in the way she does can help to create greater empathy and tolerance. If she wants to make up for lost time or rebuild your relationship then see if you can find it in your heart to forgive her.

Consider your own behaviour

It’s also worth considering if there’s anything you would or could have done differently. Perhaps you’ve said or done things to her in the past that you feel bad about. Making the first step and apologising can be hard, particularly when you feel that she’s also in the wrong, but the potential rewards are enormous.

Don’t expect everything to be mended overnight, but in time it’s possible to get things back on track and for Mother’s Day to conjure up more positive emotions in the future.

Christine Northam is an experienced counsellor working with individuals and couples coping with relationship difficulties. To find out more about Relate’s services, visit the website .

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Tiny Changes Matter

Why Does My Mom Argue With Me About Everything?

By Author Carol Gravitt

Posted on Last updated: July 14, 2023

Categories Family

Nothing is worse than when you mind your business and the argument suddenly starts.

You didn’t do anything to provoke it. Maybe you just came home from work or got out of bed, but those harsh words and objections awaited you like poisonous needles.

What is on today’s arguments menu, you are wondering. Is it something big like who are you dating? Why didn’t you go to college?

Girl annoyed by authoritative lecturing senior mother.

Or it is something small and trivial like why are you wearing that ugly T-shirt? Whatever it is, you are just sick of it and want it to stop.

Every argument is worse when the person you care about is on the opposite side of you. It’s horrible when you fight with your mother. Mother is the most crucial person in our lives, and our relationship with her is significant.

You can’t help but wonder, how did the two of you get into that situation? Why did you lose the idyllic relationship you once had? Who’s to blame? Is it her, or is it you? Or is the guilt shared?

All these questions bother you and disturb your daily life. The most important question to which you need to find an answer in this situation is: How to fix the relationship with your mother and stop all those toxic arguments?

In this article, by explaining why your mom argues with you constantly, we will try to give you some pieces of advice on how to fix your relationship with your mother.

Your mother didn’t have good role models

Unfortunately, parents often pass on their parents’ mistakes to their children.

If your mother was subject to the same toxic arguments from her mother when she was younger, there is a possibility that she adopted the same behavior.

She does not recognize that this system is terrible but thinks it is normal and justified. Maybe she even believes that this way, she is developing a strong character for her child.

Toxic perfectionism

Authoritative mature mother sit on couch at home fight quarrel with grown-up adult daughter.

It is usual for a mother to want his child to succeed in life in every aspect. But what if that need becomes a nuisance and a burden to the child.

Parents often want their children to be the best in everything. But your mother’s vision for you sometimes does not match the image of life that you want for yourself.

Maybe your mother is an overachiever, career-driven, and expects the same from you. She expects you to do what she wants and doesn’t respect your wishes.

When there is so much desire present, the disappointment can be huge. That disappointment quickly becomes complaints and arguments.

Victim mentality and blame game

Many arguments await you if your mother decides to fall into victim mentality or play the blame game.

You will probably hear the sentence: “I sacrificed everything for you, and this is how you repay me” . You will undoubtedly hear a lot about her dreams, what she could have been, what kind of career she could have had, and so on.

Whose fault is it that none of that happened? In your mother’s opinion, it’s yours. She sacrificed everything for you but will use every opportunity to remind you.

Even if you succeed in life, according to her, it is because she decided to play the holy victim so that you could achieve.

You and your mother are too different

You share the same blood, but that does not mean you are the same person.

You can have different views and opinions on all possible topics, and this can cause many potential arguments. Your mother may disagree with your lifestyle and choices in life.

It can be a generational thing. You know that different generations, such as boomers and millennials, do not understand one another.

You and your mother are too similar

Yes, even this can be a reason for burning arguments. You both are easily annoyed and offended. The same nervous personality is what describes you both.

In such a heated atmosphere, arguments are inevitable. Now, here are some strategies to stop or at least minimize the arguments:

Talk with her

Happy older retired woman mother chatting with pleasant smiling grown up daughter, sitting together on cozy sofa, drinking tea coffee.

Sounds pretty obvious, but it does matter how you approach it.

Tell her how her constant complaints ruin your inner peace and that you want to stop it. If you think it is necessary, you can go to psychotherapy together.

Try to step into her shoes

It is always tricky to look at the situation from a different perspective. The more complicated is when our mother is on the opposite side.

Try to understand her, what made her be this way. Acknowledge and respect her. Show empathy.

Set some boundaries

Healthy boundaries should exist in all relationships, and even with the mother.

It may be challenging to set boundaries with your mother, but if you set healthy boundaries, you will save yourself from unnecessary criticism.

Limit the time with her and choose what to tell her and what not

These are not permanent solutions, but they will help you listen to complaints a little less than usual.

If your mom does not respect boundaries, try limiting your time with her. Maybe she will realize how her objections create a rift between you two.

You probably already know which topics will start an argument, so avoid them.

You may not be able to change some of your mother’s habits, but with these two methods, you will at least minimize her arguments.

To Conclude

Constant arguments lead nowhere, and there are no winners in them.

Even minor complaints usually hide some bigger problem behind them.

You don’t want that feeling of emptiness and anger over you after an argument anymore. It’s up to you to decide the best way to stop your mother’s toxic nagging. Arm yourself with patience and positive energy.

You are thankful to her for everything, but you are grown up now and make choices for yourself, and your mom should respect that.

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Thesis Statements

What is a thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper.  It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant.  Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue.  Then, spend the rest of your paper–each body paragraph–fulfilling that promise.

Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction.  Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it.  View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper.  Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued.  If it does not, then revise it.  Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries.  Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.

A successful thesis statement:

  • makes an historical argument
  • takes a position that requires defending
  • is historically specific
  • is focused and precise
  • answers the question, “so what?”

How to write a thesis statement:

Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:

“Historians have debated the American Revolution’s effect on women.  Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women’s authority in the family.  Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics.  Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home.  Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women.”

Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.

While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt.  It needs to be more specific about how  the Revolution had a limited effect on women and  why it mattered that women remained in the home.

Revised Thesis:  The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office.  Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.

This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war).  However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home.  It needs to make an argument about some element of the war’s limited effect on women.  This thesis requires further revision.

Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family’s farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.

Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval.  Your thesis needs to be debatable:  it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue.  Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case.  Here is a revised version:

Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women.  With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses.  As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.

Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places.  In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what  attitudes toward women were in early America, and  how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men. In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.

This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper.  The terms “social,” “political,” and “economic” are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages.  The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women.  As “Republican Mothers,” women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands.  Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation’s politics than they had under British rule.

This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered.  How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics?  What were women able to do with these advantages?  Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity.  Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.

Thesis Checklist

When revising your thesis, check it against the following guidelines:

  • Does my thesis make an historical argument?
  • Does my thesis take a position that requires defending?
  • Is my thesis historically specific?
  • Is my thesis focused and precise?
  • Does my thesis answer the question, “so what?”

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That’s a nice argument, unfortunately…

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