Your friends are going to reunite with their moms after a long time without seeing each other. Its not the same for you. You dread these meetings. The mere thought of spending a few days with your mom stresses you out. You cant remember ever enjoying a day with her.
Sounds familiar? Theres a high likelihood she is toxic. Most people raised by a toxic parent dont realize that theres a problem, especially if their needs are met. They consider it normal. Most people notice the effects of unhealthy relationships only in adulthood.
However, its possible to move forward. The first step involves understanding why your mother behaves the way she does. With this information, youll realize that the reason has nothing to do with you and hopefully decide to make a positive change for both of you.
In this article, were going to explore the telltale signs of a toxic mother. Weve also shared tips on how to work on building a healthier relationship and mend things with your mom.
Is Your Mother Toxic? 8 Telltale Signs
Most children believe they are to blame if they cant get along with their toxic mother. You shouldnt blame yourself for your mothers toxic behavior. She could be behaving that way for different reasons, ranging from childhood trauma to complicated family dynamics. Everyone is different and has various triggers.
Nonetheless, you must understand what makes up a toxic mother. With this article, you can make healthy changes and transform your relationship. However, you should know that most parents show some of these signs. It only becomes toxic if they are displaying two or more of the points below consistently.
Never Stops Criticizing You
Do you feel like its impossible to please your mom? She finds fault with everything you do. No one can seem to meet your mothers level of perfection, either. If your mother checks these boxes, she is toxic.
The toxic mother disapproves of everything anyone does. It doesnt matter if you did your best, or the task is perfect. Shell always notice the bad before the good.
She Wont Stop Controlling You
Toxic people often expect you to do as they desire, even if its not what you wish. A toxic mom will want to have a say in your everyday life. From what you wear, who you hang out with, to who you date, its her way or the highway. She doesnt try to find out your opinions or feelings in different situations. She just expects you to live by her rules.
In most cases, such individuals will also try to control other people in their lives. Youll notice the controlling behavior towards their spouse and even friends.
She Relies on Emotional Blackmail
When a toxic mother doesnt get what she wants, shell often result in emotional blackmail. Such a parent either uses the silent treatment or does whatever it takes to make you believe youre to blame. Shes had a lot of practice with you. She knows which buttons to push and when. Therefore, mom knows you will bend to all her demands if she uses this approach.
If you find that youre always changing your mind when your mother gets upset about something, its a toxic relationship.
Guilt-Trips and Manipulation Are the Order of the Day
If its not emotional blackmail, most mothers with toxic behavior will turn to accusations or manipulation. She will stop at nothing to make you feel guilty for her toxic traits when you question her. Its also common for toxic mothers to blame their children for their failures and shortcomings in life.
Because she knows which buttons to press, shell know exactly what to do or say to bend you to her will. Whats the result? You often find yourself doing stuff to please your mother while disregarding your needs.
She Doesnt Respect Boundaries
One word that doesnt exist in toxic mothers vocabularies is boundaries. When youre a child, youll notice it in innocent situations. Your mother will walk in while youre taking a shower and offer to scrub your back. Theyll get into your room while youre getting dressed and invade your privacy in multiple ways.
While this behavior may seem harmless when youre young, it gets worse when youre an adult. A toxic mother will go to the lengths of calling your spouse or boss to discuss you. Theyll also often show up to your house without invitation and may even go through your mail or phone.
Disregards Your Feelings and Opinions
Toxic mothers also dont regard ones feelings. If youve tried to address the problem, chances are shes shut you down by criticizing or belittling you. She makes it clear that expressing dissatisfaction about her behavior is not allowed and punishable.
Again, shell result in guilt-tripping, trying to manipulate you, and criticizing you for avoiding confrontation. And in cases where youre upset about other things, shell not hear it either.
Doesnt Mind Humiliating You
A toxic mother will also have no problem humiliating you in front of your friends and relatives. Shell make jokes about you or tell embarrassing stories you shared in confidence without any regard for your feelings. And when you confront her, youll often be met with, Youre too sensitive or You cant take a joke.
Doesnt Take Responsibility or Apologize
The last thing a toxic mother will do is apologize to you. If youre upset, she will use passive-aggressive behavior to make you feel guilty. Shell show up late for meetings intentionally or give you the silent treatment. In some cases, she may also deliberately delay something important to you to get back at you.
Toxic Mothers: How Do They Impact Our Relationships?
Theres no doubt that this kind of relationship with a mother is far from healthy. Youll see these relationships mostly with daughters and their moms compared to sons. Nonetheless, such an issue can have a detrimental impact on ones relationships. Heres how.
You Lack a Sense of Identity
People with a toxic mother often lack a sense of identity as well. While growing up, their entire mothers focus was on herself and what she wanted. Therefore, they grow up doing things to please their mothers and never stop considering what they want. They also dont get a chance to make choices that impact their sense of self.
You Doubt Yourself Too Much
How you end up viewing yourself as an adult has a lot to do with how you were raised. Confident adults most probably grew up in households where they were constantly encouraged and challenged to try new things. Its different for children with a toxic mother. She makes you feel unworthy and as if your opinions dont matter.
As a result, you end up doubting everything you do. You may find that youre passing on opportunities because you question your value. In some cases, you may not even accept a compliment because you believe youre not good enough.
Youre Not Comfortable Opening Up
People whove grown up with toxic mothers also have a hard time opening up about their feelings. While growing up, you were used to constant criticism, no matter what you did. Expressing your emotions became something bad and has always followed with consequences.
As a result, you grow up believing its wrong to open up. This mindset makes it challenging to talk about your feelings, even when youre in a safe space.
You Feel Inadequate
You believe that nothing you do will ever be good enough. Therefore, you grow up feeling inadequate. In every situation, you feel powerless and as if you have nothing to offer. Youll feel this way in relationships, at work, and when trying to accomplish goals.
You Self-Sabotage a Lot
Due to the feeling of inadequacy, youll often feel the need to self-sabotage due to fear of failure. If youve been criticized even in situations where you did your best, you start believing your best isnt good enough.
Individuals whove grown up with toxic mothers will often sabotage their relationships as well. When they find someone who listens to their opinions and concerns and doesnt criticize, its outside their comfort zone. Theyre used to not being acknowledged or heard. Therefore, they will prefer a relationship similar to the one they had with their mother.
You Have a Strained with Your Siblings
A toxic mother wants each of her children to bend to her will. The only way to do it is to triangulate the relationship and create a tense environment.
In such homes, youll find that the siblings are often in rivalry with one another. And the mother doesnt help because thats how she wants it. You and your siblings are more likely to obey her will if youre not in good terms. Not to mention, youre less likely to confront her about her bad behavior when you are at loggerheads with your sibling.
You Tolerate Abuse and Ill-Treatment
A person who grew up in a toxic environment is more likely to tolerate poor treatment or abuse. Your boss will cross the line, but you wont report it. Youll think its your fault, and you deserve the poor treatment.
Youre also more likely to take abuse from a spouse or stand ill-treatment from friends. Youre afraid to defend yourself because when you stood up to your mother, it never ended well.
You Dont Embrace Yourself in Fear of Threatening Others
Youre also more likely to dull your shine to please others. You are afraid to outshine other people or standout because you fear rejection. Individuals who have a toxic relationship with their mother will also often pass up promotions and not volunteer for incredible opportunities. Theyre comfortable in the background because they were never allowed to excel at home.
Can You Fix the Relationship?
Yes! The first step is realizing and accepting your relationship for what it is. Next, you need to take that you did nothing wrong to trigger your mothers behavior. Whats more, you need to realize that your relationship with your mother doesnt have to affect your relationships.
You can do something about it. Consider the following:
- Establish healthy boundaries: develop a strategy to deal with critical comments from her and decide not to take it when it happens;
- Start living for you: if your mother doesnt respect your boundaries, you dont have to take it decide to live your own life;
- Empathize: often, critical mothers mean well. Try to understand where theyre coming from.
- Seek professional help: if youve tried everything without success, consider seeing a licensed therapist.
For mothers to be regarded as toxic, they exhibit certain traits consistently. However, youre not powerless in the situation.
To fix the relationship and begin a path of healing, the key takeaways are:
- Identify your mothers toxic traits
- Accept that youre not to blame for her behavior
- Realize the impact of such behavior on your future life
- Be ready to make a change and seek professional help to begin a path of healing
It is the only way to remedy the situation and start a new healthy relationship with your mom. Also, understand that fixing a toxic relationship with a mother isnt a walk in the park. Youve grown up with her behavior and taken it for years. It will take time and effort to fix your relationship and develop healthy boundaries.
Take advantage of online therapy service. Its cost-effective and available round the clock. So dont accept your toxic relationship with your mother to ruin your life. Use our services to fix your relationship and start making positive choices for your life. Its a journey youll be glad you decided to start!
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has worked in healthcare since 2017. She primarily treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and grief, as well as identity, relationship and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience has focused on individual and group counseling, emergency counseling and outreach.Read more