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*Peg Streep
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8 Types of Toxic Patterns in Mother-Daughter Relationships
Despite the commonalities, there are differences.
Posted Feb 02, 2015
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Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock
Source: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock
Its true enough that all daughters of unloving and unattuned mothers
have common experiences. The lack of maternal warmth and validation
warps their sense of self, makes them lack confidence
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/confidence> in or be wary of
close emotional connection, and shapes them in ways that are both seen
and unseen.
What are they missing? I will quote Judith Viorst because her

description of what an attuned mother communicates through gaze,


gesture, and word is pitch perfect:
* You are what you are. You are what you are feeling. Allowing us
to believe in our own reality. Persuading us that it is safe to
expose our early fragile beginning-to-grow true self.*
The unloved daughter hears something very different, and takes away
another lesson entirely. Unlike the daughter of an attuned mother who
grows in reflected light, the unloved daughter is diminished by the
connection.
Yet, despite the broad strokes of this shared and painful experience,
the pattern of connectionhow the mother interacts with her
daughtervaries significantly from one pair to another. These different
behaviors affect daughters in specific ways. Ive compiled a list of
these patterns, drawn from my own experiences and those of the many
daughters Ive spoken to over the years since I first began researching
Mean Mothers. Since Im neither a therapist nor a psychologist, the
names Ive given them arent scientific but chosen for clarity. Yet
differentiating these patterns in broad terms can help daughters
recognize, understand, sort through, and ultimately begin to manage
these very problematic and painful interactions. These behaviors arent
mutually exclusive, of course; my own mother was dismissive, combative,
unreliable, and self-involved by turns.
*1. Dismissive*
My mother ignored me, Gwen, 47, confides. If I did something that I
thought would make her proud, she would either dismiss it as
insignificant or undercut it in some other way. And I believed her for
the longest time. Daughters raised by dismissive mothers doubt the
validity of their own emotional needs. They feel unworthy of attention
and experience deep, gut-wrenching self-doubt, all the while feeling
intense longing for love
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/relationships> and validation.
Heres how one daughter described it:
My mother literally didnt listen to me or hear me. Shed ask if I
were hungry and if I said I wasnt, shed put food in front of me as
if Id said nothing. She would ask what I wanted to do over the
weekend or summer, ignore my answer, and then make plans for me.
What clothes did I want? The same thing. But that wasnt the central
part: she never asked me how I was feeling or what I was thinking.
She made it clear that I was largely irrelevant to her.
Dismissive behavior, as reported by daughters, occurs across a spectrum,
and can become combative if the mother actively and aggressively turns
dismissal into rejection. Human offspring are hardwired to need and seek
proximity to their mothers, and therein lies the problem: the daughters
need for her mothers attention and love isnt diminished by the
mothers dismissal. In fact, from my own personal experience, I know
that it can amp up the need, thrusting the daughter into an active
pattern of demand (Why dont you care about me/ love me, Mom? or Why
do you ignore me?) or a plan to fix the situation (Ill get all As
in school or win a prize, and then shell love me for sure!). The
response, alas, is inevitably the mothers further withdrawal, often
accompanied by complete denial about what took place.
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*2. Controlling*
In many ways, this is another form of the dismissive interaction
although it presents very differently; the key link is that the
controlling mother doesnt acknowledge her daughter any more than the
dismissive one does. These mothers micromanage their daughters, actively
refuse to acknowledge the validity of their words or choices, and
instill a sense of insecurity and helplessness in their offspring. Most
of this behavior is done under the guise of being for the childs own
good; the message is, effectively, that the daughter is inadequate,
cannot be trusted to exercise good judgment, and would simply flounder
and fail without her mothers guidance.
*3. Unavailable*
Emotionally unavailable mothers, those who actively withdraw at a
daughters approach or who withhold love from one child while granting
it to another, inflict a different kind of damage. Be mindful that all
children are hardwired to rely on their mothers thanks to evolution. My
mother wasnt mean, one daughter writes, But she was emotionally
disconnected from me and still is. These behaviors can include lack of
physical contact (no hugging, no comforting); unresponsiveness to a
childs cries or displays of emotion, and her articulated needs as she
gets older; and, of course, literal abandonment.
Literal abandonment leaves its own special scars, especially in a
culture which believes in the automatic nature
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/environment> of mother love and
instinctual behavior. In addition to being excruciatingly painful, it is
also bewildering. That was true for Eileen, 39, who has sorted through
many of these issues and, as a mother herself, now has limited contact
with her mother. Eileens parents divorced when she was four and she
lived with her mother until she was six when her mother decided that her
father was the appropriate parent after all. It was devastating for
the six-year-old, particularly since her father remarried and had
already had a first child in his new marriage
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/marriage>. There would be two
more. But the big question for Eileen was this: I could never
understand why my Mom didnt want to be around. I felt a huge part was
missing in my life and that only my Mom could fill it.
Advertisement
All of these behaviors leave daughters emotionally hungry and sometimes
desperately needy. The luckiest daughters will find another family
membera father, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncleto step into the
emotional breach which helps but doesnt heal; many dont. These
insecurely attached daughters often become clingy in adult
relationships, needing constant reassurance, from friends and lovers alike.
*4. Enmeshed*
While the first two types of behaviors describe mothers who distance
themselves from their children, enmeshment is the opposite: these
mothers do not acknowledge any kind of boundary between them, their
definition of self, and their children. In this case, the daughters
need for love and attention facilitates a maternal chokehold, exploiting
human nature in the service of another goal. These women are classic
stage mothers and live through their childrens achievements, which

they both demand and encourage; while they have a long historythe
mothers of Gypsy Rose Lee, Judy Garland, and Frances Farmer come
immediately to mindthey now have especial renown (and no shame
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/embarrassment>) thanks to
reality television. Vivian Gornicks memoir, /Fierce Attachments,/
should be required reading for any daughter who grew up with a mother
like this.
While the daughter of a dismissive or unavailable mother disappears
because of inattention and under-parenting
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/parenting>, the enmeshed
daughters sense of self is swallowed whole. Untangling enmeshmentthe
term alone conveys the difficultyis another road entirely because of
the absence of boundaries. A healthy and attuned maternal relationship
offers security and freedom to roam at oncethe infant is released from
her mothers arms to crawl, the adolescent counseled but listened to and
respectedand this pattern does not. Thats all missing in the enmeshed
relationship.
*5. Combative*
Open warfare characterizes this kind of interaction, though I have put
open in quotation marks for a reason. These mothers never acknowledge
their behaviors, and they are usually quite careful about displaying
them in public. Included in this group are the mothers who actively
denigrate their daughters, are hypercritical, intensely jealous
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/jealousy> of, or competitive
with their offspring. Yes, this is mean mother territory; the mother
takes advantage of the power play. I knowthe words power play and
mother seem incongruous combined in a single sentencebut I leave you
in the capable hands of Deborah Tannen, with a quotation I use often
because I simply cant phrase it better or with her authority:
This, in the end, may be the crux of a parents power over a child:
not only to create the world the child lives in but also to dictate
how that world is to be interpreted.
A child is no match for this warrior queen and, more dangerously, will
internalize the messages communicated by her. Many daughters report that
the pain of feeling responsible somehowthe belief that they made
their mothers react, or that they are unworthyis as crippling as the
lack of maternal love. Blame and shame was usually this mothers weapons
of choice.
The combative mother uses verbal and emotional abuse to win but can
resort to physical force as well. She rationalizes her behaviors as
being necessary because of defects in her daughters character or
behavior. This is dangerous territory.
*6. Unreliable*
This is, in many ways, the hardest behavior for a daughter to cope with,
because she never knows if the good mommy or the bad mommy will show
up. All children form mental images of what relationships in the real
world look like based on their connections to their mothers; these
daughters understand emotional connection to be fraught, precarious, and
even dangerous. In an interview for my book, Mean Mothers, Jeanne (a
pseudonym) said:
I trace my own lack of self-confidence back to my mother. She was

emotionally unreliablehorribly critical of me one day, dismissive


the next, and then, out of nowhere, smiling and fussing over me. I
now realize that the smiley mom thing usually happened in front of
other people who were her audience. Anyway, I never knew what to
expect. She could be intolerably present, inexplicably absent, and
then playing a part. I assumed Id done something to make her treat
me the way she did. Now, I know she did what she felt like, without
any thought of me, but I still hear her voice in my head especially
when life gets difficult or I feel insecure.
*7. Self-involved*
Call her a narcissist
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/narcissism>if you wish. This
mother sees her daughterif she sees her at allas an extension of
herself and nothing more. Unlike the enmeshed mother who is intently and
smotheringly focused on her child, this mother carefully controls her
involvement as it suits her own self-reflection. A power player, shes
incapable of empathy; instead, very concerned with appearances and the
opinions of others. Her emotional connection to her daughter is
superficialalthough she would fiercely deny that if you askedbecause
her focus is on herself. The tactics she uses to manipulate and control
her daughter permit her to self-aggrandize and feel good about herself.
These mothers often look great from the outsidethey are usually
attractive and charming when you meet them, take great care of their
homes, and may have admirable talents and careerswhich serves to
confuse and isolate the unloved daughter even more. It is, alas, easier
to recognize that you are playing the role of Cinderella (and it was an
evil <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/ethics-and-morality> mom,
not a stepmother, until the Grimm Brothers cleaned up the tale) when you
are living in the cellar and everyone knows your mother is a hag.
*8. Role-reversed*
Anecdotally, this is the pattern of maternal interaction I hear about
the leastthe scenario in which the daughter, even at a young age,
becomes the helper, the caretaker
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/caregiving>, or even the
mother to her own mother. Sometimes, this pattern emerges when the
mother has children very young and more of them than she can actually
handle. That was true for Jenna, now in her late thirties, who reported:
"By the time my Mom was 26, she had four kids, little money, and no
support. I was the oldest and by the time I was five, I was her
helper. I learned to cook, do laundry, and clean. As I got older,
the dynamic stayed the same, only more so. She called me her rock
but she never paid attention to me, just to my younger siblings. Now
that Im an adult, she still doesnt mother me but acts more like a
very critical, older friend. I think she robbed me of my childhood
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/child-development>.
More famously, but in the same vein, Mary Karrs memoir /The Liar
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/deception>s Club/ depicts both
Mary and her older sister stepping in to mother themselves or their mother.
Daughters of alcoholic <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/alcohol>
mothers or those who suffer from untreated depression
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/depression> may also find
themselves in the caretaker role, regardless of their age. That may

include mothering not just their mothers but their siblings, as well.
There are fragile mothers who also interact in this way, claiming
health <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/health> or other issues.
Ironically, these mothers may love their daughters but lack the capacity
to act on their feelings. While these behaviors are hurtful, with
therapy <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/therapy> or
intervention, many daughters report reconciliation in adulthood as well
as understanding <https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/empathy>.
*A Few Thoughts*
Despite what we prefer to believe, the female of our species isnt
hardwired to love her offspring; it is the child, not the mother, whom
evolution has equipped with a powerful need as an aid to survival. Its
estimated that half of us, plus or minus, hit the jackpot and have
mothers who range from great to good enough. This is not to say that
these mothers are perfecthuman beings, by definition, make
mistakesor that they dont sometimes, at one moment or another, exhibit
any of these kinds of interaction. It happens, but it doesnt constitute
a /pattern/.
But for those of us who didnt fare as well in the lottery, there is
hope and healing. To those who have trouble understanding, please listen
and dont put these daughters on trial because they challenge what you
would like to believe about mothering and motherhood.
Please exhibit the trait
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/personality> these mothers lack.
Its called /empathy/.
Copyright 2015 Monika Kocladja
Source: Copyright 2015 Monika Kocladja
/*Copyright Peg Streep 2015*/
Photograph copyright Monika Koclajda. Used with permission.
Visit the photographer s Facebook page(link is external)
<http://www.facebook.com/MonikaKoclajdaPhotography>.
*VISIT ME ON Facebook(link is external)
<http://www.facebook.com/PegStreepAuthor>*
*READ MY BOOKS *
* /Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why It Matters in Life, Love, and Work/
* /Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt/
Viorst, Judith. /Necessary Losses/. New York: Fireside Books, 1986.
Tannen, Deborah. /Youre Wearing That? Mothers and Daughters in
Conversation. /New York: Ballantine, 2006.
Gornick, Vivian,/Fierce Attachments: A Memoir/. New York: Farrar,Straus
& Giroux, 2005.
Karr, Mary. /The Liars Club: A Memoir/. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.
*
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Show 155 Comments
<#>
Re: Thank you!
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748507#comment-748507>
Submitted by JM on February 3, 2015 - 1:45am

What a wonderful article! Thank you so much for writing about this
subject. My mother was, and still is, both unavailable and
self-involved. She is revered by people in our community (a local
celebrity). She emotionally and physically abandoned me at 6 years old,
yet I saw her from time to time because she spent a lot of time with my
sister. She continues to be very close and connected with my sister, and
she continues to be apathetic and cold toward me.
I have various other issues (childhood sexual abuse by multiple
offenders, etc.), but nothing has caused more more damage than my issues
with my mother. If anything, those other issues were intensified by the
pain and confusion from the deep wounds from my mother. I ceased all
communication with my mother and sister in March 2014. The funny thing
is that I never even had to tell my mother that I wasn t speaking to her
anymore. I simply stopped calling her, and she never called me again.
She literally does not seem to care if I am dead or alive. In fact, she
probably wishes I was dead so that she wouldn t have to deal with the
knowledge of my existence.
I am in my mid-30 s, and it is still excruciatingly painful, like a
wound that simply will not heal... I m frustrated and embarrassed that I
am unable to put it behind me. Anyway, thanks again for the wonderful
article.
* Reply to JM
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748507>
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Good luck
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748546#comment-748546>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on February 3, 2015
- 9:30am
Hi JM, I am saddened by your story, of course. I m not a therapist or
psychologist but I would urge you to get some help dealing with the
issue. You CAN put this behind you (not totally but enough so that you
can live with wholeness) by working with a counselor. Therapy absolutely
saved my life. This is a journey that can be undertaken; I know it
firsthand. All best, Peg
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748546>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748546?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Thank you, Peg...
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748666#comment-748666>

Submitted by Anonymous on February 3, 2015 - 8:46pm


Hi Peg,
So, here s the crazy thing: I am close to completing my second year of
my master s program, and my degree is in counseling psychology. In fact,
we are deeply immersed in personality disorders this quarter which, of
course, makes everything extra difficult since my mom fits the DSM 5
diagnostic criteria for NPD. The class is helping me develop some
compassion around the issue, though, since personality disorders are the
result of psychological injuries. One thing about a lot of narcissists
is that they cannot tolerate emotional/sensitive/empathetic people. I am
all of those things, and let me tell you -- this lady (my "mother") did
a major number on me.
I don t want to reveal too many details publicly because, as I said, she
is a local celebrity and there is a chance that people will recognize
this story. I will just mention that I was born after my parents lost a
child (she was almost 3 years old) between my living sister and I. She
died in a freak accident, and my mom got pregnant to "bring her back"
from death. I was born, and I received the same name as my dead sister.
For a while, she fully believed that her previous kid had risen from
death and come back to start all over again as an infant. I m sure that
has something to do with her apathetic attitude and, when I m right in
front of her face, her clear expressions of disgust and disapproval.
I am in my own ongoing personal therapy, and in fact, I happened to have
a session today. I shared what I had posted here, and my therapist
called me out about the part where I said, "she probably wishes I was
dead..." Okay, she probably doesn t wish I was dead, but only because
she would have to have strong feelings toward me to go out of her way to
wish something like that. She s mostly indifferent.
Anyway, thank you so much for the lovely message. I will keep working on
this issue. It s at the root of so many negative choices that I have
made, and I would love to find some peace with it.
* Reply to Anonymous
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748666>
* Quote Anonymous
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748666?quote=1#commen
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Replacement child
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748713#comment-748713>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on February 4, 2015
- 7:52am
Hi Anonymous,
Wow, that is quite a story. I would love to hear more privately; either
email via PT if you want or message me at
www.Facebook.com/PegStreepAuthor(link is external)
<http://www.facebook.com/PegStreepAuthor>. Of course, a child can t be

replaced in that way; siblings, at most, only share 50% of their DNA
after all. I have heard from children of Holocaust survivors who were
"replacements" for children lost in war and death camps and the results
were mixed and, of course, utterly dependent on the parental
expectations for how a new child would assuage the loss. As you know,
I m neither a therapist nor a psychologist so I m not qualified to
discuss disorders. But this scenario, to a layperson who is a mother
herself, does sound like a recipe for disaster with disappointment built
in that has nothing to do with you. Good luck on your journey of healing
and in your studies. Best, Peg
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748713>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748713?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Karma <https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809403#comment-809403>
Submitted by Denise on December 26, 2015 - 1:54pm
Have you ever considered changing your given name? Doing so would be
much more than just a symbolic step, I think.
* Reply to Denise
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809403>
* Quote Denise
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809403?quote=1#commen
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To whom is this addressed? I
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809420#comment-809420>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on December 26,
2015 - 3:48pm
To whom is this addressed? I don t understand.
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809420>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809420?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Peg- I think the comment
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809453#comment-809453>

Submitted by Adifferent Anonymous on December 26, 2015 - 8:02pm


Peg- I think the comment asking about changing the person s given name
is addressed to JM/Anonymous, whose comments are at the top of the
comment thread for this article.
* Reply to Adifferent Anonymous
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809453>
* Quote Adifferent Anonymous
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809453?quote=1#commen
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As a mother who had her first
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/821183#comment-821183>
Submitted by Tracy on February 19, 2016 - 8:37am
As a mother who had her first miscarriage last year, I cannot imagine
wanting to "replace" my child. The pain is crippling, but I look at my 3
beautiful children and know there is no way to replace them. They are
all unique and special in their own ways. I do not attempt to pretend
they are perfect because that would not do them any good. Instead I
focus on how good they are and how good they will be with practice. Our
biggest motto is "mistakes lead to masterpieces". While my kids are
super smart, this also means they can be perfectionists. Making a
mistake is a great way to learn something new about yourself.
My adopted mother fits more than a few of these categories. She was
emotionally unavailable to me while devoting all love and affection on
my brother. To this day I am the only one criticized and don t even
think about bringing up feelings or it will turn nasty. She will always
blame me for everything because I am not the daughter she wanted. Even
when I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 10, (what was
supposed to be a death sentence) I heard about how this was unfair to
her. 2 years ago I was in the hospital and the nurse got an earful when
she overheard my embarrassing conversation about how my mother did not
have time to watch my kids for me and kept asking when I was going to be
released. I couldn t walk or sit up by myself at the time because my
blood pressure was dangerously low. To her, the time she was wasting
with my kids was her time and I was ruining it.
In the end, we have to accept that we cannot change these people, but we
can make sure we are not the same type(s) of mothers to our children. My
kids are my world. I am somewhat strict, but they are given (painful for
me) room to grow up. They deserve a chance to be the person they were
born to be and I am here to help them figure that out by loving them and
helping them get back up when they fall. I am the ear that listens, the
voice of reason at times, arms that snuggle anytime of day or night, and
heart that will bleed when they hurt while having enough mind to know
that growing up will have its bumps and bruises along the way.
* Reply to Tracy
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/821183>
* Quote Tracy
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/821183?quote=1#commen
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Help me Please!!
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/797499#comment-797499>
Submitted by Chiffon on October 29, 2015 - 9:59am
I deal with a mother who displays all 8 patterns and it feels like more
than one at most. I m sick of being judged BC of the way I feel about
this woman. The word mother means nothing to me as it relates to mine.
My mother gave birth to me at the age of 28. She was not a child. She is
a evil spirit. She has never emotionally connected with me and she
treats my kids the same way she treated me. She treats us like we are
just people she knows no relation to her. Like I didn t come give birth
to me. I can t connect to anyone and I don t believe anyone truly care
about me. My life is ruined BC of her. I want nothing to do with her. If
she died, I don t want to know and I hope I m not responsible. I don t
feel bad BC my feelings are valid. I need help and don t know what to do
about it.
* Reply to Chiffon
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/797499>
* Quote Chiffon
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mothers & Daughters
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/779546#comment-779546>
Submitted by Annie on August 4, 2015 - 11:43am
what about when a mother goes above and beyond for their daughter but
the daughter doesn t appreciate and becomes disrespectful i.e. swearing
* Reply to Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779546>
* Quote Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779546?quote=1#commen
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What do you mean by "going
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/779549#comment-779549>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on August 4, 2015 11:47am
What do you mean by "going above and beyond?" Without knowing what you
mean by that, it s not possible to answer.
* Reply to Peg Streep

<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779549>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779549?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Going above and beyond
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/779771#comment-779771>
Submitted by Annie on August 5, 2015 - 3:10pm
What do you mean "going above and beyond" is a well known saying... it
means I am doing everything a normal mom would do for her grown daughter
* Reply to Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779771>
* Quote Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779771?quote=1#commen
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As the mother of a grown
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/779772#comment-779772>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on August 5, 2015 3:20pm
As the mother of a grown daughter myself, I would simply say that
perhaps whatever it is that you are doing isn t what your daughter
wants. There s always tension in mother-daughter relationships, even in
loving ones, when a daughter reaches adulthood and makes her own choices
and decisions. It is also a time when, even in healthy relationships,
the daughter sets new boundaries and the mother has to adjust to the
fact that those choices are not necessarily one she would make and
the boundaries may be more hard and fast than she would like. Your
daughter may feel intruded on, and may actually not want your help. And
that should be okay too.
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779772>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779772?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Another Way to Look At these Mothers
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/788938#comment-788938>
Submitted by Cria Lantern on September 20, 2015 - 10:08pm

I d like to say that life is complex. It s good to read about these


types of inattunement that you describe; though I can think of times
where this would have just broken my heart and made me hang my head. How
does one fix the past? What if one is aware while this is happening and
tries everything she can to stop her negative behaviors, gets into
counseling and stays. Mindfully searching out appropriate counseling if
one doesn t seem to get it or to support the changes you want to make.
What if you try everything you can do to get your daughter counseling
but it just is not something she can accept. Whether it s that other
relatives have been against it, or she sees it as a critique of her.
I believe I was raised by a mom who was unattuned. Her lack of
attunement I believe came through her tragic experiences in her
childhood, and perhaps her mother s pain while raising her. I did not
feel my mom was aware of me or my feelings, didn t feel validated,
experienced her often as running over me with her own interpretations of
my experience and identity. Found her jealous of and hurt by my skills
and was reluctant to excel around her. Angered by that. Dismissive of
her, in order to set my boundaries, I ll guess. But it was unkind. I
regret it and ache from it sometimes. Fortunately I have her yet. And
she is forgiving and philosophical. Much more open minded than in my
childhood.
The biggest thing that freed me was to realize I could have empathy for
my mom, even where her mothering practices seemed to fail me.
I don t think it helps our society and the transformation of mothering
to write an article all about the mothers and their faults. Remember:
those who are abused or neglected tend to meet these same traits in
themselves when it s time to raise their own children differently -whether or not they find it easy to over come those patterns -- they do
arise. So the people who are abusive were children whose needs also were
not met.
How do you separate out the abused from those in whom abusive behaviors
arise? At what point could the abusive/neglectful behaviors (learned
from the abusive/neglectful mothers) count as feeding back into the
family dynamic/style of neglect and abuse?
As a mother matures or her situation improves, say she gains the
perspective to make changes in her behavior, she may yet be confronted
by horrendous energies (mirroring her own, or those of another adult in
her daughter s life, who she may or may not have been able to legally
protect her child from--and these efforts can be all consuming and
exhausting) coming from her growing daughter s own pain and anger. That
is not easy to take, hard to respond with grace to. It is a complex
dynamic when a family is vested with these painful dynamics.
It is my opinion (and surely my biased wish) that there be love and
empathy, however long-distance or on kept to oneself it may need be. I
cannot believe that anyone growing up in such a dynamic, any of them,
finds it hard to give the good love you describe. What we meet ourselves
with when we fail at these desired good mothering skills, I believe, can
make a huge difference in how well we can pick ourselves up and proceed
with progress. Defining one generation as deserving only negative in
intent and only negative in effort, and by the most negative opinion the
daughter had during her growing years does both mother and daughter a
disfavor. I am large I contain multiples. --Walt Whitman.
* Reply to Cria Lantern

<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/788938>
* Quote Cria Lantern
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/788938?quote=1#commen
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I could not disagree with you
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/789002#comment-789002>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on September 21,
2015 - 8:28am
I could not disagree with you more. I think it s vital that these issues
be discussed in the context of understanding that maternal behavior is
learned, not instinctual, and that not all mothers are capable of
meeting their children s basic emotional needs. Conscious awareness and
open discussion is what our society needs. We already have enough taboos
to go around.
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/789002>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/789002?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Black and White Thinking
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/795527#comment-795527>
Submitted by Kathleen on October 19, 2015 - 5:18pm
Saying mothering is "learned, not instinctual" and then forming your
thesis based on this is too simplistic. But then you go to "conscious
awareness and open discussion" which becomes very nebulous... . What I
think about when I read this article, and examine my experience of being
mothered and of mothering is that we (most of us, anyway) are really
doing the best we can, and are motivated but what feels (at the time)
like survival. What I ve come to feel about my own mother is a sense of
wistfulness. She is still alive and we have a relationship of sorts; but
not the one I wish it was. She is not capable of being the nurturing
loving mom I wish I had - and I feel that loss. Now that I have come
full circle with my own daughter. I know she is filled with anger and
pain at the way I mothered her. I appreciate the suggestion of
"counseling" you provided in your comment previously. Please know I have
done LOTS of work on my stuff. Groups, retreats, individual sessions,
12-step work, etc. I put myself through graduate school and am a
licensed clinical provider. I am very aware of my issues from a personal
and theoretical perspective. What I find frustrating about these kinds
of articles is that you ve taken a very complex issue and boiled it down
to a "fault list." You ve given us all "ammunition" to critic and
condemn our mothers, but very little about how to heal. Healing doesn t
come from getting our mothers to change. Mine is 85, and I don t see it
happening in this lifetime. Healing comes from my recognizing she was a

product of her childhood (9th child born in the depression with an


absent alcoholic father). I m quite sure she didn t get much nurturing
either. Healing comes from allowing her to do a better job with her
grandchildren (and she did). Healing comes from finding other (healthy)
sources to fill the hole left from the loss I felt. I hope my daughter
finds the healing, but that she also comes to a place where she can be
less judgmental and more compassionate. I think we will both benefit
from that change.
* Reply to Kathleen
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795527>
* Quote Kathleen
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795527?quote=1#commen
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@Kathleen
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809384#comment-809384>
Submitted by Doddlin on December 26, 2015 - 11:52am
You nailed it. Healing and peace comes when we gain an understanding
that not one of us is perfect, not one of us will parent perfectly nor
do we control how our children turn out. A parent is at most 1/8 of the
influence in our lives. And... only an influence.
We will each go through the second guessing, guilt and the beating
ourselves up for our parenting job. It s as though we put parents in the
role of God to our children. We believe parents control everything, good
or bad. It s just not true.
Finally, once we fully reflect upon our own human imperfection, we judge
less, forgive more and show can compassion and empathy toward everyone.
Bonus - in doing this we love ourselves and experience love with others
more.
* Reply to Doddlin
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809384>
* Quote Doddlin
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809384?quote=1#commen
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But there are people who are
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809421#comment-809421>
Submitted by Theresa on December 26, 2015 - 3:53pm
But there are people who are not able to feel empathy. It s not like we
are demanding our parents to be perfect, we just want that our basic
human rights are appreciated and need to feel sorry for the lack of love
and compassion we missed in our childhood. Children have rights too. Not
just the mother or the father. Some people just can t accept that some
mothers love themselves more than their child or children. And that is a

fact. I m not going to keep living in a lie!


* Reply to Theresa
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809421>
* Quote Theresa
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809421?quote=1#commen
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@Theresa
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809475#comment-809475>
Submitted by Mary on December 26, 2015 - 11:57pm
I do agree that there are people who are not able to show love,
compassion, or be fit parents. Hurt people-hurt people. That may be by
withholding love, affection, acceptance, etc. People who genuinely do
not feel empathy are suffering from a disorder. Addicts often appear
that way, but it is the addiction that got a hold on them and may also
occur with another condition. They are illnesses as much as multiple
sclerosis or diabetes. My own mother was a depressed alcoholic and
incapable of so much. I was the care taker at an early age, and yes, a
child needs to be emotionally fed to grow up emotionally healthy. I was
not. I married into abuse. When I got out of that relationship, I
learned about Adult Children of Alcoholics issues. I know my neglectful
mother loved me the best she could. I know when she was drunk and
unreasonable, it was her illness that drove he behavior. I had moved 500
miles away at age 14 and she moved near me when I was 20 so I could
drive her around and care for her. She was still drinking. I had to set
some really tough boundaries. I had to relearn everything I should have
learned in childhood, in addition, allow myself to start feeling instead
of doing, process past in order to heal to summarize before re-marrying
and having 2 more children. Those with this unhealthy mother often do
need to step back and learn to love themselves asap. The article
(without looking back) refers to mean mothers, and unloving mothers.
That is what I have an issue with. I dont think these terms are
congruent to healing. What is love? This could become quite
philosophical. To me it is a verb, it is shown through actions. By being
present when your child is throwing up all night long. By being
emotionally present when reading their favorite book. I have parented 2
ways, 1st child while in abusive marriage, often not emotionally
present. Second two children, I had that benefit. I think the words
"loving" and "mean" should be thought out with caution in reading this
article. If someone is punching you in the nose-it is not love! Only you
know your situation and if it is painful, there is so much hope for
change, but you cannot count on the parent to change whether it is lack
of love, inability, illness, addiction, etc. Every young woman is
deserving of love, and if they did not get it in childhood, it is never
too late, it is within ourselves though, and until we master this, we
will likely repeat some pain in other relationships. I don t think that
the moms who are intentionally mean need to be minimized, I do think
that they are over emphasized here. I think more often than not, mothers
are not so much mean, but bring their baggage with them, are in
unchartered territory, and dealing with more stressful issues than in
the past. There is no dress rehearsal for their role. In every of the 8
catagories, I could find threads of my own stuff, a friend or relative,
or other well intentioned mother and can recognize the driving force,

least often of total selfish nature, more often fear. We need to be


bridging the gaps and be true to ourselves as mothers and daughters.
Many good points in all of the comments posted.
* Reply to Mary
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809475>
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black and white thinking
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809419#comment-809419>
Submitted by Mary on December 26, 2015 - 3:36pm
I agree with you about this hypothesis being much too simple, and while
well written, I find it somewhat blaming of mothers. Behaviors are
learned and intuitive. We all are born with different temperments and
respond accordingly. I am a mother, have a masters degree and am a
licensed mental health counselor . I have been a daughter for many years
and have 3 grown daughters and their thoughts and feelings about me have
little common threads. None of which makes me an expert here. Articles
such as this one attracts young women seeking answers who do not want to
look within themselves for what they are feeling or where they may be in
life at this moment. There are certainily some ill mothers, both
physically and mentally, raising daughters. Katherine, I also find these
kind of articles frustrating, as I can relate to life as mine very
similar experience with my mother who passed away in 2001. I am grateful
that I had the ability to work through issues and accept her for those
shortcomings prior to her death, and she was very inadequate and did not
raise me for many years. I also put myself through grad school with 3
daughters. There are good 12 step groups such as ACOA which can be
helpful even if not raised by an alcoholic parent. Daughters grow up,
and each has a choice of how to live their life independently of their
mothers. So rather than looking at a laundry list of faults, referred to
as "types" , time would be much better spent in a form of self discovery
and while there will certainly be factors of moms behavior, there are
too many other factors to isolate and attribute ones situation or
personality on only mothers. It is my opinion that the article would be
"8 types of inadequate mothers", but the reality is that it is not the
majority. Mother/daughter relationships are very unique, often have a
bond different than other relationships, and very complex. Each
generations belief about parenting has also impacted the dynamics. I
also have some hypothesis about young adults today (those in 20 s now),
how we have attempted to assure confidence and self esteem, and treated
our children with great respect, we may have missed the boat in other
areas toward others, ie. compassion, empathy, and forgiveness. I also
have a daughter that I hope will find acceptance of herself, compassion,
and empathy. Moms are human beings.not super hero s.
* Reply to Mary
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809419>
* Quote Mary
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809419?quote=1#commen
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*

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Psychologists/Psychiatrists: Work On YOURSELVES, you are TOXIC!
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/812531#comment-812531>
Submitted by Bravo Kathleen & Others who challenge this PscyhoBABBLE on
January 10, 2016 - 1:41am
Saying mothering is "learned, not instinctual" and then forming your
thesis based on this is too simplistic. But then you go to
"conscious awareness and open discussion" which becomes very
nebulous... . What I think about when I read this article, and
examine my experience of being mothered and of mothering is that we
(most of us, anyway) are really doing the best we can, and are
motivated but what feels (at the time) like survival. What I ve come
to feel about my own mother is a sense of wistfulness. She is still
alive and we have a relationship of sorts; but not the one I wish it
was. She is not capable of being the nurturing loving mom I wish I
had - and I feel that loss. Now that I have come full circle with my
own daughter. I know she is filled with anger and pain at the way I
mothered her. I appreciate the suggestion of "counseling" you
provided in your comment previously. Please know I have done LOTS of
work on my stuff. Groups, retreats, individual sessions, 12-step
work, etc. I put myself through graduate school and am a licensed
clinical provider. I am very aware of my issues from a personal and
theoretical perspective. What I find frustrating about these kinds
of articles is that you ve taken a very complex issue and boiled it
down to a "fault list." You ve given us all "ammunition" to critic
and condemn our mothers, but very little about how to heal. Healing
doesn t come from getting our mothers to change. Mine is 85, and I
don t see it happening in this lifetime. Healing comes from my
recognizing she was a product of her childhood (9th child born in
the depression with an absent alcoholic father). I m quite sure she
didn t get much nurturing either. Healing comes from allowing her to
do a better job with her grandchildren (and she did). Healing comes
from finding other (healthy) sources to fill the hole left from the
loss I felt. I hope my daughter finds the healing, but that she also
comes to a place where she can be less judgmental and more
compassionate. I think we will both benefit from that change.
* Reply to Bravo Kathleen & Others who challenge this PscyhoBABBLE
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/812531>
* Quote Bravo Kathleen & Others who challenge this PscyhoBABBLE
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/812531?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Mother-daughter (child) dynamics
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/793639#comment-793639>
Submitted by Sandy on October 9, 2015 - 6:55pm
I recently read Dr. J Webb, "Running on empty" It was very insightful to
me in understanding and analyzing my mom, myself and my daughter and our
current relationship dynamics. Moms/parents are well meaning- we have a

tendency to regurgitate what we learned in our primary years


(unknowingly). Right now my daughter is in a psycho drug induced state,
yes legal prescriptions my daughter, whos in her thirties, by psy
doctors and I only can hold my breath and pray she does not commit the S
while trying to work it out. I went through 10 years of anti-D and found
them to be minimal/temporary helpful and worse in the long run. I took
back my power and live my life accordingly. She has given her power to
the pharmapseudical industry and i am very afraid for her. Still I reach
out to her and get back a virtiolic rant of nasty words- spewing acid. I
will never give up on her and will reach out even though she has given
up on me. For my own sanity I am ready to tell her to have a nice life.
* Reply to Sandy
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/793639>
* Quote Sandy
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/793639?quote=1#commen
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Yes, I am one of those mothers.
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/795318#comment-795318>
Submitted by Kathleen on October 18, 2015 - 6:34pm
When I read this article I thought; these are all the things my daughter
will and has said about me. She has chosen to estrange herself from me
for the past two years. We have tentatively reconnected, but in our last
conversation I heard about all my failings and faults. I am able to see
the truth in much of it. I was mothered by a woman who had 7 babies in 9
years with an abusive, raging authoritarian father. I did not get any
nurturing in my childhood. I was criticized and emotionally abused. I
tried my best when my daughter was born. It s like teaching a fish to
ride a bicycle. I just didn t know how. I am not making excuses, only
saying this is a multigenerational issue. I still want a relationship
with my daughter, and her children. I have learned more in the 35 years
since she was born. I would like to see more articles about healing
these relationships; not condemning mothers.
* Reply to Kathleen
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795318>
* Quote Kathleen
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795318?quote=1#commen
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This isn t meant to condemn
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/795472#comment-795472>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on October 19, 2015
- 12:19pm
This isn t meant to condemn those mothers; it is meant to help the
daughters who feel unloved. But if you recognize yourself, then you have

taken a first step and you can change how you act. Seeking some help and
counseling so you can talk openly and freely about your own experiences
would be a step. I m not a therapist or psychologist but I know that
therapy saved my life in many ways and has helped mothers and daughters
alike. Good luck to you. Best,, Peg
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795472>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795472?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
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"Feel" unloved, but were they?
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/813979#comment-813979>
Submitted by Kate on January 16, 2016 - 5:42pm
Yesterday I saw my daughter for the first time in six years. She s 21
now. I sat down at the table, she pulled out some notes and glanced at
them. Her initial statement? "I spent my childhood doing laundry and".
I don t remember what the second thing was but I don t think it was "
doing gymnastics, studying violin, attending excellent schools, dancing,
cleaning my room by throwing clean clothes into the hamper, being given
laptops to spend hours typing, fine quality materials for painting &
drawing, etc. most importantly, being loved, taught the importance of
education and knowledge, being cared for as my mother made sure every
day to let me know to I was loved, trying to reach through my inborn
anxiety and stress". She had two henchmen with her and I wonder if they
believed that doing laundry was abuse. I wonder if they understand that
her father was alienated from his mother, possibly by his father, A
pattern that continues because of his failure to support all children s
need for mothering? I wonder if they understand that her father
willfully denied me money, making sure I had no money to pay a lawyer or
even to buy sufficient groceries so he could appear to be the hero who
cooked for his children? Did they understand that the social worker who
investigated her claim that I had torn her t-shirt and told her to walk
on broken glass knew she was lying and told her father to get counseling
to identify his emotional enmeshment/emotional incest with her? That the
"child family investigator" didn t understand basic, validated mental
health diagnoses beyond the few, some controversial she uses in her
tiny, tiny toolbox? That this CFI is well known in the community for her
women-hating and mother-blaming?
I have been portrayed as "mean" by my daughter, "broken" by my
ex-husband, caring, compassionate, loving by my friends, by the parents
of her peers in her very small K-8 school and by acquaintances, as "mom"
by her brother.
Sure, I understand there are lousy moms but so many fewer than people
like this would have us believe. There are two sides to every storyI ve learned to doubt many of those that condemn the mother, especially
when the father is not on the radar in anyway and more especially
because the majority of narcissists are men. Let s start taking a look
at what those men and some in "family" law are doing to mothers that
make them into scapegoats. (I was told I was the source of conflict yet
dozens of times screaming and yelling is heard between my children and

their father and there s nothing I can do. Power is in the hands of the
moneyed.)
* Reply to Kate
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/813979>
* Quote Kate
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/813979?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Reply to Kate
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/814722#comment-814722>
Submitted by Kim on January 20, 2016 - 11:07am
Kate, I don t believe she was generalizing "mean moms" Shoot, I ve been
mean many times and although I think I am, for the most part, a great
mom, I know how much I have personally messed up. Some of the things I
have most definitely inherited from my past and some maybe just bad
habits I don t want to give up? Regardless, I do apologize to my
daughter when I know I ve wronged her or argue my point if I don t
believe I am wrong. Once again, maybe wrong but I try to be the best mom
I am capable of.
I am still emotionally scarred from the verbal abuse my mom has
tormented me with as an adult into mature adulthood for over 25 yrs. I
have never ever received an apology for all the garbage she s thrown at
me until just recently when I won t put up with her nonsense any longer
and tell her like it is. Now she ll give an apology for little ways
she s not handled something appropriately. But the destruction she
caused to my emotional life is still causing havoc as I ve never gone
for counseling for many reasons (would have killed to if there was a way).
I m sure you are a great mom that still makes mistakes. Kids are kids
and they ll find out some day... Just don t take this personally! The
mom s who should take it personally, IF they ever were to read this,
hopefully would get the slap in the face they need to wake up and do
what they have to do to change!
Yesterday I saw my daughter for the first time in six years. She s
21 now. I sat down at the table, she pulled out some notes and
glanced at them. Her initial statement? "I spent my childhood doing
laundry and". I don t remember what the second thing was but I
don t think it was " doing gymnastics, studying violin, attending
excellent schools, dancing, cleaning my room by throwing clean
clothes into the hamper, being given laptops to spend hours typing,
fine quality materials for painting & drawing, etc. most
importantly, being loved, taught the importance of education and
knowledge, being cared for as my mother made sure every day to let
me know to I was loved, trying to reach through my inborn anxiety
and stress". She had two henchmen with her and I wonder if they
believed that doing laundry was abuse. I wonder if they understand
that her father was alienated from his mother, possibly by his
father, A pattern that continues because of his failure to support
all children s need for mothering? I wonder if they understand that
her father willfully denied me money, making sure I had no money to
pay a lawyer or even to buy sufficient groceries so he could appear

to be the hero who cooked for his children? Did they understand that
the social worker who investigated her claim that I had torn her
t-shirt and told her to walk on broken glass knew she was lying and
told her father to get counseling to identify his emotional
enmeshment/emotional incest with her? That the "child family
investigator" didn t understand basic, validated mental health
diagnoses beyond the few, some controversial she uses in her tiny,
tiny toolbox? That this CFI is well known in the community for her
women-hating and mother-blaming?
I have been portrayed as "mean" by my daughter, "broken" by my
ex-husband, caring, compassionate, loving by my friends, by the
parents of her peers in her very small K-8 school and by
acquaintances, as "mom" by her brother.
Sure, I understand there are lousy moms but so many fewer than
people like this would have us believe. There are two sides to every
story- I ve learned to doubt many of those that condemn the mother,
especially when the father is not on the radar in anyway and more
especially because the majority of narcissists are men. Let s start
taking a look at what those men and some in "family" law are doing
to mothers that make them into scapegoats. (I was told I was the
source of conflict yet dozens of times screaming and yelling is
heard between my children and their father and there s nothing I can
do. Power is in the hands of the moneyed.)
* Reply to Kim
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/814722>
* Quote Kim
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/814722?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
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Dejavu <https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/819921#comment-819921>
Submitted by Rhonda on February 13, 2016 - 7:30am
I have your problem exactly. Fortunately i could afford a lawyer. I
believe this to be domestic violence outside of the marraige and your
daughter like mine is a scapegoat. He probably let her do what she
wanted, when she wanted and if anything goes wrong it was your fault?
??? I m sorry for what u have been through and hope your daughter can
see what her father is. He is toxic and using your daughter as pawn.
Karma will prevail. What goes around comes around. U r a fantastic
mother and don t u believe otherwise xxx
* Reply to Rhonda
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/819921>
* Quote Rhonda
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/819921?quote=1#commen
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not condemmed
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/795514#comment-795514>

Submitted by nk on October 19, 2015 - 3:52pm


Part of taking full responsibility for your own actions is realising
that perhaps you deserve the negative view points expressed. Yes, you
had a rubbish childhood also and unfortunately it has taken you this
long to get to a point where you are self aware enough to change. This
is great. But seeing this article as condemming misses the point. You
are entitled to your anger about your childhood and so is your daughter.
Now you know realise this, take your free will and work on it. You can
choose not to be liek you used to be. It may take some time, but your
daughter should be able to respond accordingly, just give her time. Do
it for yourself first though. Because if she isn t able to respond
positively it is not a excuse to go back to old ways.
* Reply to nk
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795514>
* Quote nk
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795514?quote=1#commen
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Every time I read an article
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/806086#comment-806086>
Submitted by Amy on December 10, 2015 - 2:09pm
Every time I read an article like this there s always a parent or
grandparent who takes it personally and accuses the author of attacking
them, rather than helping these injured daughters. No one is condemning
you. They re trying to heal emotional wounds. You d think as a person
who was abused, you d be sympathetic because you should now how deep and
irrevocable those wounds go. There are plenty of places you can find
support for being an estranged parent rather than denigrating therapists
who are trying to help a whole different group of people than you.
* Reply to Amy
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/806086>
* Quote Amy
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/806086?quote=1#commen
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You can t see my scars
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/795476#comment-795476>
Submitted by H Zandhuisen on October 19, 2015 - 12:43pm
Most people who are victims of this type of abuse don t have visible
scars. You can t tell from the outside that anything is wrong. In fact
the mother goes out of her way to hide her bad behavior from the world.
It is like living with a true Jeckel and Hide.
Your statement would be true if every one was mentally healthy, the
mothers in the article are truly ill. They are NOT mentally healthy,
though they appear to be. In-fact if challenged they will make the child

victim appear to be the unhealthy one. The child must be dreaming, or


she is just overly sensitive. The child is constantly on eggshells.
Constantly trying to live up to mothers expectations and ALWAYS coming
up short. The mothers also never apologize for the hurts that they cause.
There is deep pain for the daughters. Most of the time no one believes
them and to get out of the situation the victim looses close family and
friends. Not all relationships are what they appear to be. Don t be so
easily gas-lighted. Otherwise you become a pawn in the ill mothers
continued abuse of the adult daughter.
If there is a mother with adult children and none of them call, it is
probably not the children who are the terrible ones. Children, even
adult children, want to feel amazing when they are around their parent.
Not have PTSD.
* Reply to H Zandhuisen
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795476>
* Quote H Zandhuisen
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795476?quote=1#commen
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Your post
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809663#comment-809663>
Submitted by Kim on December 27, 2015 - 10:07pm
Hi, I wanted you to know that even with Love and Empathy towards the
abuser their actions do not change. We may be doing the right thing by
displaying those traits but we are still pummeled with cruelty
constantly trying to pick ourselves back up year after year. If they are
unwilling to look at themselves but only able to find fault in
everything else to make themselves look good, showing love and empathy
although still the right action on our part, does nothing to protect us.
Nothing works with people like this! Maybe they need the cold hard truth
slapped in their faces via an article like this to finally make
something click!
After 25 years of abuse (I m now 52) and 15 yrs. of marriage and raising
a daughter of my own I am just now beginning to heal. I couldn t afford
therapy and was so tormented by her that I wanted to crawl in a hole
most of the time. I wasted all those years of my life, my marriage and
raising my daughter in a healthy atmosphere staying in communications
with her.
My self esteem was so destroyed I just wanted to disappear but kept
going for my daughter. I had to fight for years to prove to my husband
that I was not this awful person that she portrayed me to be. I asked my
little girl if she loved me because I believed NOBODY could because I
was so unlovable.
Nobody should have to live like this! Thank God I now see the truth
after years of praying, writing and cutting her out of our lives and
attempting to let her in here and there only to be lied to and
manipulated over and over.
I feel like I finally can breathe and am no longer suffocating but I do
admit I have a way to go. I have a lot of feelings I need to sort

through yet but am getting stronger every year.


I will continue to have empathy and Love for her and if she comes back a
changed person, I d welcome her with open arms. Unlike her, I would not
bring up or live in the past but try to make up for all the lost time.
But for now I have to protect my fragile state of mind until I have
worked through it all and confidently know I can handle anything that
comes my way.
* Reply to Kim
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809663>
* Quote Kim
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809663?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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too extreme
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/789711#comment-789711>
Submitted by Sue S on September 24, 2015 - 9:56am
In any relationship there are two sides. I am the daughter of a mom who
was several of the characteristics you named, but as I matured and grew,
I also saw the role I played in our struggles. I believe Annie is trying
to figure out why her daughter doesn t appreciate the good she tries to
do. The burden is on us as daughters to also understand our mother s
hearts, why they are wounded; then learn to love them unconditionally no
matter how they treat us. That is the epitome of mature love. Any love
but the love of Christ will always prove deficient, lacking. We cannot
solely place responsibility on the mothers for the relationship. That
only perpetuates the cycle, shifting entire blame to one person which is
not healthy. I am also the mom of a grown daughter and could not
possibly meet all her demands for love. This is why we need God and His
limitless acceptance and love. I do think, though, in a society that
tolerates abortion, the destruction of one s own child, why we see an
increase in the devaluing of mother- daughter relationships.
* Reply to Sue S
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/789711>
* Quote Sue S
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/789711?quote=1#commen
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Sue, I disagree
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/800214#comment-800214>
Submitted by Elisabeth on November 11, 2015 - 1:35pm
My mother is an alcoholic. Twenty-five years ago, she traded her
addiction to alcohol for an addiction to Jesus. She was no better a
mother for it. Just like alcohol was more important than loving her
daughters and spending time with them, so was Christianity. And because
I couldn t embrace her newfound faith, the distance between us grew.

Today, she ll say that she no longer has those "warm fuzzy feelings"
toward me. I m simply an obligation.
She believes wholeheartedly in that verse that following Jesus will
drive a wedge between family members, and she saw nothing wrong with
that wedge being drawn when her daughter was only 8 years old.
* Reply to Elisabeth
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/800214>
* Quote Elisabeth
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/800214?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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Reply to Sue
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809665#comment-809665>
Submitted by Kim on December 27, 2015 - 10:30pm
Sue, I am also a Christian and I do love my mother as she is my mother
BUT I learned from my little brother and my Pastor that we can Love the
abuser but we don t have to stick around and continue being abused!
Yes God know s I ve made a billion mistakes over the years and in my
teens but I am 52 yrs. old. I have a 14 yr. old daughter and yet my
mother still reinforces over and over year after year every way I have
messed up and keeps logs so she can (Inaccurately) throw things in my face.
My point being we can Love the abuser, forgive the abuser, hope and pray
that we will one day have a loving kind and wonderful relationship with
the abuser but I am not going to Unconditionally love somebody who is
abusing me! Forget it. I am more important than that to me. I want and
choose LIFE, Happiness, Love, and most importantly Forgiveness of others...
* Reply to Kim
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809665>
* Quote Kim
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809665?quote=1#commen
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It sounds like...
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809441#comment-809441>
Submitted by Telly on December 26, 2015 - 6:15pm
What do you mean "going above and beyond" is a well known saying...
it means I am doing everything a normal mom would do for her grown
daughter
I hazard a guess that the empathy, emotional support and unconditional
acceptance your daughter really needs is absent. Narcissistic mothers
consider themselves as "going above and beyond" while never really
providing the basic mothering that is so desperately needed.

* Reply to Telly
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809441>
* Quote Telly
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809441?quote=1#commen
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mothers and daughters
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/779553#comment-779553>
Submitted by mom on August 4, 2015 - 12:08pm
That is the other side of the coin and there are always 2 sides to the
story. There are many mothers who are loving and giving with daughters
who are disrespectful and angry. Many times it is a family problem. M-D
relationships r complicated.
This is a lay persons blog.
* Reply to mom
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779553>
* Quote mom
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779553?quote=1#commen
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This is indeed a blog written
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/779557#comment-779557>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on August 4, 2015 12:17pm
This is indeed a blog written by a layperson who depends on research and
many, many interviews conducted over an eight period with unloved
daughters. No one, including myself, ever said that mother-daughter
relationships aren t complicated; they are. And yes, other family
members and relationships, both in their absence and presence, affect
the mother-daughter relationship. But the word "disrespectful" that
you ve used does ring a bell. Is that respect due you because you are a
mother or respect due you because you have done your best? There is a
difference, a profound one.
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779557>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/779557?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
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*
face your conflict
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/795516#comment-795516>

Submitted by nk on October 19, 2015 - 3:57pm


You sound like you don t want to face reality. Yes, some children still
turn out disordered despite best efforts, but they are a small minority
often with inherited disorders. Yet even research shows us that those
like this need an hostile or unattunned environment to trigger those
disorders. Maybe, this daughter you speak of is angry about something
else entirely, have you tried to find out?
* Reply to nk
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795516>
* Quote nk
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795516?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
Mothers & Daughters
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/808041#comment-808041>
Submitted by Elize on December 20, 2015 - 1:31am
Then Annie, this forum isn t about you, it s about mum s who undervalue
their daughters, loving daughters, to make themselves feel superior. I m
so sorry your daughter doesn t appreciate you. Speak to her,
objectively, to find out why. Don t discount each other s feelings and
be prepared to mend hurts.
* Reply to Elize
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/808041>
* Quote Elize
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/808041?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
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*
So sad <https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/803993#comment-803993>
Submitted by Tulin on December 1, 2015 - 6:54am
Every child deserves love . I hope you an find it in other areas of your
life .
* Reply to Tulin
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/803993>
* Quote Tulin
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/803993?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
Praying for your healing
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/809388#comment-809388>

Submitted by Sally on December 26, 2015 - 12:20pm


I m so sorry as a mother I can t imagine treating a child that way. You
are in my prayers!
* Reply to Sally
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809388>
* Quote Sally
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/809388?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
Ditto <https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/817518#comment-817518>
Submitted by Diane on February 2, 2016 - 7:59am
What a wonderful article! Thank you so much for writing about this
subject. My mother was, and still is, both unavailable and
self-involved. She is revered by people in our community (a local
celebrity). She emotionally and physically abandoned me at 6 years
old, yet I saw her from time to time because she spent a lot of time
with my sister. She continues to be very close and connected with my
sister, and she continues to be apathetic and cold toward me.
I have various other issues (childhood sexual abuse by multiple
offenders, etc.), but nothing has caused more more damage than my
issues with my mother. If anything, those other issues were
intensified by the pain and confusion from the deep wounds from my
mother. I ceased all communication with my mother and sister in
March 2014. The funny thing is that I never even had to tell my
mother that I wasn t speaking to her anymore. I simply stopped
calling her, and she never called me again. She literally does not
seem to care if I am dead or alive. In fact, she probably wishes I
was dead so that she wouldn t have to deal with the knowledge of my
existence.
I am in my mid-30 s, and it is still excruciatingly painful, like a
wound that simply will not heal... I m frustrated and embarrassed
that I am unable to put it behind me. Anyway, thanks again for the
wonderful article.
* Reply to Diane
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/817518>
* Quote Diane
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/817518?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
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JM, I am so sorry that you
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/822327#comment-822327>
Submitted by sandra on February 24, 2016 - 8:06pm
JM, I am so sorry that you are still experiencing this but the fact is,
it s a part of who you are whether you are in your 30s or 60s.

I am in my late 40s and still feel the same issues with my mother.
It ll always be difficult as long as you are the only one making any
effort to work through this.
Stay strong and know that people are here to talk to
* Reply to sandra
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/822327>
* Quote sandra
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/822327?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
Thankyou for sharing
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/827100#comment-827100>
Submitted by Alison on March 18, 2016 - 1:27am
It was both harrowing and familiar to read your piece ...I am in the
early stages of no contact with my mum .. at 48 I wish I d done this
sooner ( but everyone kept saying it can t be that bad .. She s your mum
etc .. You only get one ! )
But my mother couldn t love or care for me and I was and have been
emotionally starved all my life .. . It has affected all my
relationships and made me have no self worth .. Emotional abuse is the
very worst and for me has been a life sentence .. I m doing lots of
reading on the subject of narcisstic mothers and now trying to reclaim
my life ..stArted new counselling ( I ve had lots ) but really ready to
tackle this new phase Of my life .. I d love to join or set up a support
group do none of us need suffer in silence .. Let me know if you re
interested or anyone else reading this ... Ditsytose47@gmail.com(link
sends e-mail) <mailto:Ditsytose47@gmail.com>
And good luck and well done to all of us surviving this ordeal .. Let s
break the legacy they left us !
* Reply to Alison
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/827100>
* Quote Alison
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/827100?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
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*
My mom is number 6, 7 and 8.
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748536#comment-748536>
Submitted by Hanna on February 3, 2015 - 8:29am
My mom is number 6, 7 and 8.
I never knew how she would treat me and I always had to walk on
eggshells. She could be nice sometimes and I could make her laugh until
she almost peed herself, but if I had any needs or questioned her

strange ways of handling life she became very cold and hostile.
Sometimes she threatened to throw me out and other times she gave me and
my siblings feelings of guilt and shame by saying she might end up in
hospital because of us. She blamed me and my siblings for everything and
I had to mother both her and my siblings. My mom was 17 when she had me
and today she has 5 children.
Sometimes mom could be proud of me but it was hard to know if she was
proud because she was my mom, if she just pretended to be because it s
the right thing to do or sometimes because others were around and so on.
My mom has also stolen money from practically everyone she knows
including me. It didn t matter that I was overly nice and good as a
child she didn t spare me any pain anyway. Today we have no contact but
I haven t even had the chance to cut off contact before she did it.
Mom grew up with an alcoholic mother who was ten times worst than mom,
hard to imagine but that s how it was. She could leave mom with her
siblings all alone for days when mom was 6 and her siblings 5 and 1,5
years old. Of course mom has told me about this lots of times and she
also used to share everything else with me, a lot of inappropriate stuff
that children shouldn t know of.
My stepfather was also a terrible person (although, as with all people,
he could be kind and friendly now and then).
I m working a lot on healing, seeing my true worth and developing the
talents I have. It s amazing how talented most people are but with
mothers like this we don t know exactly how good we are.
* Reply to Hanna
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748536>
* Quote Hanna
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748536?quote=1#commen
t-form>
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*
An important topic; well done
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748604#comment-748604>
Submitted by Annie on February 3, 2015 - 1:43pm
I think its both innovative and really useful to discuss negative
maternal behaviors this way, without assigning formal psychological
diagnostic labels to the behaviors. That makes it clear that its the
negative maternal behaviors that are destructive and traumatizing to the
children and need to be discussed in order to find answers to reducing
this kind of damage to children (breaking the cycle of abuse) in the future.
My own theory is that most (if not all) of these negative behavior
patterns engaged in by mothers RE their daughters, happen (a) because
the child is unwanted, and/or (b) because the mother does have some form
of and degree of mental disorder.
There could be any number of reasons that a woman might not really want
to be a mother but tries to, anyway.

So instead of terminating her pregnancy, or instead of giving her child


up for adoption at birth, these "mean mothers" and "rejecting mothers"
choose to keep their child but then grow to hate being a mother, resent
their child for existing and blame the child for her own unhappiness.
All the different sets of behaviors you listed seem (to me, anyway) to
include a lack of empathy, along with (again, to my mind) a lack of
interest in being a mother, which presents as either (a) some form of
rejecting the child, (b) some form of punishing the child or (c) some
form of exploiting the child.
In my own case, my mother displayed most of the behaviors you listed
towards me and my younger Sister at various times. My mother openly
admitted that she didn t particularly like children and had "given up"
on having a "normal mother/daughter relationship" with me by the time I
was three. But, I was unwanted; mother blamed me (and my younger Sister)
for "trapping" her in a marriage she had become ambivalent about. I grew
up in emotional chaos, alternately rejected and then smothered, punished
in terrifying ways and then pushed to be "famous" and worthy of her
love. I grew up with a broken heart, afraid of my own mother, and
bewildered by her. I was often told that I was an "ingrate."
Subconsciously, I think I knew that I wasn t loved, but I didn t want to
know it (wouldn t let myself internalize it) until long into adulthood.
I think it would be really interesting to do a study of women who engage
in the behaviors you ve listed, interview them and find out how many of
them either consciously or subconsciously did not really want to become
a mother, but felt somehow pressured or coerced into doing so, or
perhaps had some kind of fantasy notion about what being a mother is
like, and then felt "tricked" into motherhood.
May we all heal.
-Annie
* Reply to Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748604>
* Quote Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748604?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
Thank you, Annie. Your points
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748607#comment-748607>
Submitted by Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/peg-streep> on February 3, 2015
- 1:51pm
Thank you, Annie. Your points are well-taken. When I wrote MEAN MOTHERS,
many of the women I interviewed were Baby Boomers, as am I, and
certainly one pattern emerged from the post-WWII generation: that women
felt obligated to have children, whether they "really" wanted them or
not. I remember my parents whispering about women who "couldn t" have
children; it was a stigma. I think the choices open to women now, from
reliable birth control to simply remaining "childfree" in today s PC
parlance, means that there will be fewer mothers who aren t up to the

task. And, yes, being a good mother is hard work. But there will always
be women who have children because they need to be loved by someone, and
that too often ends in disaster as well.
* Reply to Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748607>
* Quote Peg Streep
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748607?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
In response to ANNIE
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748647#comment-748647>
Submitted by courtney on February 3, 2015 - 5:06pm
Annie,
I have the exact same situation with my mother as you do...is there
anyway you could email me? I am very seriously considering writing a
book about this, because I just now discovered what my mother had done
to me at the age of 46! I never knew that there was a label to her crazy
ways!! I want to inform other women, so they can realize they are not
alone and how they can get help...if I had known about Narcissitic
mothers, I would have cut off all ties with her 30 years ago!!!
* Reply to courtney
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748647>
* Quote courtney
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748647?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
You are not alone, Courtney
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/748668#comment-748668>
Submitted by Annie on February 3, 2015 - 9:14pm
Hi Courtney,
There are entire websites and online support groups devoted to helping
the adult children of personality-disordered parents recover from the
drama, chaos and stress and learn ways to cope more effectively with
personality-disordered parents. At these support groups you can find
lots of people who will share their experiences and I guarantee that
some posts will feel uncannily as though you yourself wrote them. When
you share your experiences and questions you will get lots of input,
validation, support, feedback, and potentially a lot of background
material for your book.
(Be aware that there are literally a dozen or more books on the subject
of personality-disordered parents and other loved ones, now; check out
Amazon for an extensive list. Awareness of the Cluster B personality
disorders has increased dramatically over the last few years.)

That s why I found Ms. Streep s take on the dysfunctional


mother/daughter relationship interesting, because she presents the
material in a fresh way: she describes what are basically
personality-disordered behaviors without labeling them as such.
Some of the more active online support groups for non-pd family members
of personality-disordered individuals, that you may want to check out, are:
Bpdfamily.com
bpdcentral.com
adult-childrenofnarcissits@yahoogroups.com(link sends e-mail)
<mailto:adult-childrenofnarcissits@yahoogroups.com>
outofthefog.net
(this site has a support forum and extensive definitions & descriptions
of various mental disorders, including the personality disorders)
Best of luck to you, and may we all heal.
-Annie
* Reply to Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748668>
* Quote Annie
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/748668?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
reply to an inportant topic
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/795366#comment-795366>
Submitted by Lily Rose on October 19, 2015 - 1:35am
Annie, I see this is an older post by now. I would add that moms of the
generation that have Baby Boomer kids (I m almost 60) were expected to
have kids if they married and were not homosexual. It was the cultural
imperative after WWII. My mother hated motherhood. She made it eminently
clear. Nice!! My sibling and I suffered under that resentment all my
mother s life. This is a woman who said to me repeatedly: I wish I never
had kids. Your post resonates with me.
* Reply to Lily Rose
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795366>
* Quote Lily Rose
<https://www.psychologytoday.com/comment/reply/1070493/795366?quote=1#commen
t-form>
*
*
*
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