A toxic mother can do a lot of long-term damage to daughters. They might carry the psychological effects well into adulthood.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on January 14, 2020. It has since been updated.
When we think of mothers, the most common belief is that they are nurturing, caring, and would do anything for their kids. But sadly, that's not the case with everyone. While some moms take out time for kids despite busy schedules and some give up their careers for them, there are others who make it all about themselves. If your mother was the latter, there is a possibility that you are an unloved daughter of a toxic mom.
If instead of mutual support, your bond with her makes you feel helpless, angry, and frustrated, more often than not, it is likely that you are in a toxic relationship with her. In a relationship with a toxic person, you might find yourself surrounded by anger, emotional manipulation, and other negative and hurtful feelings. As a child, this can leave lasting effects on you that carry forward into adulthood.
If you were raised by a toxic mom, you may have grown up thinking you are not enough and making assumptions about yourself that are self-defeating. Here are some thought patterns unloved daughters of toxic moms go through:
Growing up, if you had a mom who took care of your physical well-being but completely ignored your feelings because they were insignificant for her, you could think of your natural emotions as being over-sensitive. You are likely to not have a realistic view of your feelings if your mom shut you down every time you tried to talk to her about your negative feelings. If she was dismissive towards your emotional needs, you might think of yourself as over-sensitive, according to Bustle.
It's possible that as a toxic mother, she would have blamed you for her unhappiness though you were not responsible for it. If she made you count all the ways she sacrificed her life to raise you and asks you to put aside your happiness for hers, you would have grown up feeling responsible for others' happiness. As per therapist Daniel S. Lobel, Ph. D., who wrote in Psychology Today, some toxic mothers "see their children as forever obligated to them by the rite of birth. They feel entitled to demand from their children unlimited support and service." This could have carried into your other relationships, which made you believe that you would be loved only if you comply with their demands.
You might feel that you deserved all the negative attention you got from her because you were flawed. You might have tried to find ways to make her love you more and for years, this behavior could have carried on. It was perhaps easier for you to think that the problem lies within you, so she treated you with neglect than acknowledging that the person responsible for you was abusive and unreliable, says Peg Streep, author of Mean Mothers, in Psychology Today.
Maintaining peace at home may have been an important aspect of growing up and pleasing and appeasing may have been how you did it. If you had toxic parents in conflict with each other while you were growing up, you could be conflict-avoidant. There are people so traumatized by their childhoods that they just freeze up when someone raises their voice at them. Difficult childhoods may have made you view any kind of conflict, which is normal in relationships, as negative. After all, it is not possible for people to agree on everything so disagreements are a common part of any relationship.
Toxic mothers can find it hard to acknowledge that their children have a separate identity. Dr.Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine told Real Simple, said that for enmeshed moms this behavior stems from a fear of abandonment. This thought process may have stopped her from giving you any space or room to grow as a person, which would have affected your sense of healthy boundaries.