A toxic mother can adversely affect her child in more than one way. The first relation that a baby shares even before coming into the world is with the mother. She nurtures her child for nine months in her womb and undergoes severe pain to bring them into the world. Children find comfort in their mothers, and they are the biggest source of inspiration. But, at times, mothers can negatively influence their children. Their constant criticism, judgment, and abuse can have a toxic effect on their child’s psychological and emotional aspects. And growing up with a toxic mother around can permanently alter a child’s psyche and lead to behavioral problems. They might also have difficulties with their self-confidence and social skills. Such traumas can sometimes take forever to heal. But what can you do about it? You need to figure out whether your mother is toxic or is it your assumption. Read on for a list of traits commonly associated with toxic mothers. You can also find a few tips and tricks on dealing with her.
Who Is A Toxic Mother?
Although there is no specific definition of a toxic parent, it can be defined as a person who shows narcissistic attributes to undermine their children and get upper hand. The word ‘mother’ stands for affection, care, warmth, and positivity. But a toxic mother is the complete opposite of it. Instead of love, a toxic mother feeds lies, rebuke, ignorance, humiliation, and other negative traits to her child.
Ideally, parents should correct their children whenever they go wrong. It is a part of a child’s development. But a toxic parent is someone who criticizes unnecessarily and seldom uses words of appreciation or encouragement for their child.
A toxic mother will chastise her child more than required for the most negligible errors. She deprives her child of kind words but showers the strongest judgments that can crush their confidence and self-esteem. She can make a child feel unworthy of anything good in life.
She will downplay her child’s accomplishments and coax them to push their limits. For instance, if her child wins an award at the spelling bee competition, she may complain about not being good in math instead of congratulating.
If the child aces math, she will grumble about them not being good in sports. She can never be happy with anything the child does. She will not appreciate their good qualities but rather point out their shortcomings or weaknesses.
15 Signs Of A Toxic Mother
If you want to identify a toxic mother, watch out for the negative traits that she exhibits.
1. Indulges in destructive criticism
A mother provides feedback to make her children learn from their mistakes and improve their skills. But a toxic mother offers only negative feedback or destructive criticism. She seeks perfection from her children and disapproves of anything that does not match her set standards. If her child is weak in something, she will constantly taunt, or scold, or even call them hurtful names.
2. Compares with other children
The child may have got an A in all the subjects, but a toxic mother is unhappy because the neighbor’s child got an A+ in two subjects. There is a difference between making your child aim higher and destroying their self-confidence by comparing them with another child. A toxic mother constantly compares her child and overlooks their merits. She might even make comparisons between siblings.
3. Shows no enthusiasm for your successes
When children succeed, they like to share it with their parents to be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts. However, a toxic mother neither accepts nor appreciates her child’s efforts. It happens especially when the child has achieved something without her help. She feels that if the child continues to do well without her, she will lose her importance. Hence, she prefers showing no excitement for their success.
4. Shames for the smallest of mistakes
If a child accidentally breaks a glass bowl, the mother’s reaction is to check if they got hurt. But a toxic mother curses and abuses. She would tell them they can ‘never’ do anything good in life and may give severe punishments even for small mistakes. It may make the child believe that they deserve such ill-treatment.
5. Commands respect through aggression
Every child needs to be disciplined and learn to respect elders. Parents should put in the lesson through love and affection. But a toxic mother chooses the other way and gets aggressive or tries emotional blackmail to get the child to do what she wants in the name of respect. If children fear and get anxious when dealing with their mother, it means a wrong approach is being used.
6. Uses the silent treatment
The silent treatment is another effective weapon in a toxic mother’s arsenal used against a child to do what she wants. It makes the child feel guilty even when they haven’t done wrong. The cold behavior coaxes them to the extent of damage control by apologizing for something they didn’t do. Such passive-aggressive behavior can have a long-term damaging effect on the child’s psyche.
7. Blames for being too negative
When a child raises points against their toxic mother, a toxic mother will blame them for being too negative. The child may only be reacting, but since the mother wants to control, she will blame them for their behavior. In the end, the child will regret raising their voice or speaking against their mother.
8. Plays the victim card
One of the sharpest weapons a toxic mother wields against her child is guilt. Each time her child speaks up against her toxic behavior, she will cry in despair and blame the child for making her feel bad. She manipulates her childrenso that she becomes the victim, and they feel ungrateful for hurting their mother by speaking against them.
9. Humiliates with subtle but mean comments
“She can never become anything in life.” “He is good for nothing.”
Such comments ridiculing a child can severely puncture their self-esteem. A toxic mother will dismiss the child as being too sensitive or over-reacting. She may not think much before saying such harsh statements, but it affects the child adversely.
10. Disregards personal boundaries
A toxic mother does not consider your privacy. Since she wants to control every aspect of your life, she will deny you privacy. She might check your phone and mail without your permission, look through your stuff in your absence, and in extreme cases, even stalk you online. She does it less out of concern for you and more out of the need to use it against you to control you.
11. Gives her feelings more importance
Everything is about her needs, wants, emotions, and feelings. A toxic mother will not consider her child’s opinion or suggestion. She will ensure that the child feels obligated to ignore their own choice and instead toe the line for the sake of their mother’s happiness.
12. Imposes responsibility for her happiness
A toxic mother leaves no opportunity to remind her child of the sacrifices she has made for them. She does it to make them feel responsible for making her happy. Every child is expected to do well in life and make parents proud. But it should not be done at the cost of their happiness. A child should not feel pressured or responsible for their parent’s happiness.
13. Denies you a shot at conversation
A toxic mother cannot handle confrontation. So, she will avoid any conversation that involves her child pointing out her flaws. She will either hang up the phone on them or walk out mid-conversation. Having a meaningful conversation with a toxic mother is next to impossible.
14. Gaslights you for her convenience
Children’s minds are malleable and easy to influence. And a toxic mother uses this to her advantage. She gaslights her child to believe what she wants them to believe. It could cause adverse effects on children, and they lose trust in their mother when they grow up and learn the truth.
How To Deal With A Toxic Mother?
If your mother has been showing the above signs, you might be wondering about dealing with her. The best way to deal with her is by healing yourself from experience and changing your outlook in life.
1. Acknowledge the pain
The first thing you need to do when trying to heal from a traumatic experience is acknowledging that you are hurt. Humans deny specific experiences fearing they may not be able to deal with them. Hence, they prefer shoving them aside without realizing those will come back to trouble them if not dealt with correctly.
2. Rebuild yourself
Your toxic mother may have called you numerous names and criticized you, but it is time you leave that negative energy behind and start rebuilding yourself. You can try motivational journaling to list all you have achieved to date and what you wish to achieve in the future. Write stuff you want to say to yourself to remind you how awesome you are.
3. Learn to love yourself
Your mother may have created a bad image of you in your head. It’s time to change it to the actual image by involving in self-awareness activities. You can try by listing your strengths to hone, your weakness to work on, and your interests to develop. Go easy on yourself. Do not put undue pressure to meet unrealistic expectations.
4. Take care of yourself
To heal completely, you need to take care of your physical health. Develop a routine of waking up and going to bed at a specific time. Complete a stipulated number of hours of sleeping every day. Exercise daily and eat healthy. Do everything you can to ensure you lead a healthy life.
5. Forgive and let go
Remember that your mother is human, and humans are not perfect, right? Perhaps, it was how she was brought up and saw it as the best way to raise a child. Or she probably had no idea that her actions were hurting you. Irrespective of what it is, let go of any negative feelings and forgive her. Try to hold on to only the good memories you may have of her. Love her for whatever little good she must have done for you.
6. Set clear boundaries
If you wish to do away with the bitter past and start afresh with your mother, do it by setting clear boundaries in your relationship. Tell her how her excessive criticism hurts you and how it would be good if she could control her negative traits. Give her a chance to make amends and rebuild her relationship with you.
7. Learn to protect yourself
Learn from your experience and try to stay away from people who show similar traits. Do not let anyone bully you and determine your self-worth. Be clear about you who you want in life and work towards it tirelessly. Do not let anyone else dictate how to live or what to do in life.
8. Seek professional guidance
If the wound is too deep for you to deal with on your own, seek help from a qualified professional. A good psychologist will guide you through the pain you have experienced over the years and help you tackle pent-up negative feelings you may be holding against your mother or yourself.
We are all imperfect humans with our own set of flaws. A toxic mother’s flaw is her inability to express love for her child. Sometimes, she may mean well but cannot show it the right way. No matter how bad your mother may have treated you, a part of your heart will always hold her close. So, if needed, put some distance between your toxic mother and yourself to preserve your sanity but do not hold on to resentment towards her. Love her for giving you life and let go of any bitterness.