There are many reasons why you might not like your mother, and it usually starts as early as pre-pubescent years. It’s the time of your life when you need a strong role model the most.
It’s not necessarily one thing that she does or says, it’s a combination of many little things – and most of all, how she treats you. You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with your relationship with her, and don’t really know how to improve it.
Keep reading to find out whether or not your mom is toxic – and exactly what to do about it.
What is a Toxic Mom?
No matter how your relationship is with your father, your mother is someone you expect to:
- Love you no matter what
- Talk to you like a friend and treat you like an equal
- Step in to help you when you need it
- Not judge your every step
- Not tell you who you should be, what you should study, or what career to go for
- Not compare you to your siblings or peers
If you think she might be toxic, then you probably have no desire to heal your relationship with her. You just want to be as far away from her as possible.
No matter how you feel about her, a toxic mom isn’t necessarily a bad human being, she’s just not a great mother altogether. She might, however, do any or all of the following:
- Expresses self-centred behavior – including making everything about herself and her feelings, and being narcissistic and emotionally unavailable.
- Pits you against your siblings and always compares you to one another, instead of making sure that you grow up as best friends.
- Compares you to your peers, and demands that you become more like them.
- Minimizes your achievements, making you feel that you are never good enough. Nothing you do is a real win in her eyes.
- Tells you who you can and can’t be friends with; she says nasty things about the friends she doesn’t like, making your question everything.
- She is highly critical and controlling.
- Always has to be right – and disagreeing with her leads to a lot of conflict.
- Doesn’t respect your boundaries and constantly infiltrates your life.
- Doesn’t respect what you have to say if it goes against her beliefs.
- Oversimplifies your problems and doesn’t know what you really need when you reach out for help.
- Always judges who you date.
Do you recognize your mother in any of the above? It must be really frustrating to be stuck with a mom who simply doesn’t get you. You probably feel like she’s trying to make your life hell.
Why is Your Mom So Mean to You?
The relationship between mothers and daughters is almost always challenging; there’s no doubt about that.
Nine out of ten times your mom simply believes she is trying to protect you. She wants to make sure you don’t make the mistakes she did or go through the failures she’s gone through. What she fails to understand is that you need to live your life to its fullest and learn from your own mistakes, not hers.
Unfortunately, it’s hard for a mom to accept that her daughter is all grown up, has a mind of her own, and doesn’t need her mom as much as she did when she was a child.
Then there are all the other reasons that your mom might be the way she is to you, including struggles with jobs, finances, her husband, and other responsibilities. It’s hard to be a mother, as so much naturally falls on them.
What to Do if You Don’t Want to Be Like Your Mom
As you grow older and become more experienced, you may start to understand your mom a lot better. It might not justify her behavior, but it will shed light on a lot of things. You may learn to see things from her point of view – which will make you less angry.
You might also notice that you’re starting to exhibit certain behavior patterns that remind you of your mom! It’s a scary realization that you might be becoming her, but it’s a really common pattern.
Before you have children, you may notice that you are treating your partner or husband the way your mom treats your dad. It just sort of happens!
Once you have children, however, you really need to ask yourself a few essential questions:
- What kind of a mom do I want to be?
- How do I want to raise my children?
- What do I want to pass down to my children?
- What are the traits I never want to adopt from my mom?
The only way to become a great mother is to break the pattern you’ve observed and likely inherited from your mom (which she probably inherited from hers).
Watch how you interact with your children. What kind of words do you use with them? What kind of expectations do you have of them? If you struggle to tell what you might be doing wrong, ask for feedback.
You have the power to change the behavior patterns you dislike about your mom and not become her – but you need to be willing to do the work and accept that it isn’t easy to change.
What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Mother
If you don’t know how to respond to her or act around her, read on to find out how you can make the best out of your situation.
1. Just agree with her
This may sound a little counterproductive, but what have you got to lose? If you know what your mom’s always been like, you probably don’t expect her to change, do you? Next time she speaks her mind, simply agree with her.
It’ll probably catch her off-guard – which is a good thing. Don’t disagree, don’t challenge her, and don’t create a conflict. Say, “okay mom” for the sake of the peace, then go ahead and do whatever you were going to do anyway.
Let her believe she’s won.
2. Limit your contact with her.
It’s tough to ignore your mom because the guilt will likely eat you up – but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for both of you. If she isn’t hearing you and is being toxic, you have no choice but to teach her a lesson.
Stop texting, calling, or visiting her. Let her sit with her own thoughts and think about what kind of mother she is to you. Show her that you can live your life without her – and it’s up to her to work harder to win you back.
3. Show your appreciation.
If you know that your mom means well and isn’t just being difficult for the sake of it, try to show her your appreciation (as hard as that might be). Surely there are things she does that you’re grateful for. She is your mother after all!
4. Understand her relationship with her mother.
Behavior patterns pass through generations, which can explain why your mom is the way she is. Talk to her openly about what her relationship was (or is) with her own mother.
Did they get along? Did they fight a lot? Did they know how to communicate with one another? Show your mum that you want to avoid any bad communication patterns and build a stronger relationship with her.
5. Don’t react to her.
Your mum might be mean to you, but it doesn’t mean that you should take it to heart. If you already know her tendencies, at least you know what to expect. Stop reacting strongly to everything she says! Live your life – and be your own person.
Perhaps one day she’ll understand that you can be her friend – and that she doesn’t need to treat you like a child forever.
6. Tell her when she’s right.
If you don’t like your mother, your bias towards her would naturally make you see all of her negative characteristics all the time. You might be surprised to occasionally find out that what she said five years ago has turned out to be true, or actually really wise.
Be the bigger person and tell her when she’s right about something. It’ll probably make her feel good and useful.
7. Assume good intentions.
One of the best psychological practices you can follow in your life is to always assume good intentions. You should do this with everyone you interact with, but especially with your mom if you struggle to get along or understand her.
Just assume that she means well, and that everything she says or does is out of sincere and selfless love for you. It’ll help you deal with your frustrations and let go of some of the negative feelings you’ve been holding on to.
8. Heal from the bad relationship with your mother.
Your relationship with your mother is one of the most important relationships in your life. Wouldn’t it be a shame to go through life hating your mother, blaming her for who she is, and refusing to see anything positive in her?
Whether or not to work towards healing from the relationship is a big decision for you to make. You’ll have to decide whether to include your mom in the healing process or to go through it on your own. Either way, you have to trust that you’re making the right decision for yourself.
Book a counseling session and let a therapist help you sort things out. Be honest and willing to heal. A big part of the healing process is about forgiving your mother. It won’t be easy, but it’s vital.
9. Forgive her.
No matter how bad you think your mom is, she’s still human. She has flaws like everyone else – and one day, you might just have to accept that. In order to truly heal you’ll have to forgive her.
Think back to all the fights and disagreements you’ve had during your younger years. Contemplate on particularly painful moments in life when you really needed her but she simply wasn’t there.
Recap any nasty blame language you have exchanged with her. Perhaps at some stage, you told her that you hated her, and perhaps she’s said some really horrible things to you.
Now, choose to forgive her for it all and stand by your decision. It’s okay. You are okay.
If your mom doesn’t deserve a second chance, then who does?