Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationships

Written by: Rujusmita Selvan – M.Sc
(Clinical Neuropsychology)

Last updated date : April 04, 2022

Does it feel like your mother literally did not listen or hear you. She would ask if you were hungry and if you said yes, she would ignore you. What clothes did you want? The same thing. But that was not the central part, she never asked me how you were feeling or what you were thinking. She made it clear that I was largely irrelevant to her. This could be one of the many signs of dysfunctional mother daughter relationships and emotionally broken mother daughter relationships.

Chapter 1:

Emotionally Broken Mother Daughter Relationships

When we talk about relationships with our moms, they are someone who provides unconditional love and support. When your mom does not listen to you or if you felt invisible as a kid. This is an emotionally broken mother daughter relationships. An emotionally broken mother daughter relationships may lead to attachment issues, lowered self-esteem, problems with conflict resolution and increased rates of adolescent depression. We will look at some of the signs of emotionally broken mother daughter relationships.

If you have the below signs then it is more likely that it is one of the dysfunctional mother daughter relationships:

  • The mother wants to have complete control over the daughter’s life
  • There are some unclear boundaries
  • A lack of communication
  • The mother is overly critical
  • The mother compares her daughter to other kids.
  • The daughter is constantly fearful of disappointing the mother
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Chapter 2:

How to Recognize Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationships?

The one who controls

You’re an adult with your own career, home, and maybe some children. Does your mother still try to control your life and every decision you make? You can set boundaries with a controlling parent without damaging your relationship.

A controlling mother may be unhappy when you push back against her advice. Let her know you hear her words, but that you will make the final decisions about your life. They are used to being in control. Give them the space to share what they think.

Signs you have a controlling mother may range from mildly annoying comments to frequent arguments. She may often:

  • Offer you unsolicited advice
  • Criticize your decisions about your relationships, career, or money
  • Try to make you feel guilty if you disagree with her advice, or “guilt trips”
The one who is Dismissive

This type of relationship makes you feel as if you do not matter or do not exist. The mother always has more important things to do, and no matter how hard the daughter tries to get her attention, the mother fails to see the effort.

Below are few signs of dismissive mothers of dysfunctional mother daughter relationships

  • Constant Criticism
  • Setting unrealistic expectations
  • Your mother is constantly busy or distracted when you are trying to have a conversation
  • The behavior of your mother is very unpredictable
  • Your decisions or life choices are made fun of
  • They do not express their emotions or accept their emotions
The one who always Picks fights

You are on the phone with your mom when the conversation takes a bad turn, and before you realize it, you are in a heated argument. It is okay to have arguments in any relationship however, if the arguments always circle around one topic or occur in particular situations, it could be a dysfunctional mother daughter relationships.

Spending Time with her is always stressful

When you’re going through a rough patch in your relationship with your mom, it can be stressful to spend one-on-one time with her. But if you constantly feel this way about your interactions, that’s not a good sign. “If you feel jealous of your friends’ mothers, if you wish you could spend a day having fun with your own mother without being on high alert in her company, nervously anticipating her next insult, outburst, or scene, your mother may be toxic and it is a sign of dysfunctional mother daughter relationships.

The one who always demands attention

It might make you feel special when your mom wants to chat with you all the time. Your relationship can be toxic if she doesn’t ask you about your life or the conversation always seems to lead back to her”. This is probably a good indication that you should start limiting your interactions, so that you can care for your own wellbeing.

They act like a child in the relationship

As our parents grow older, we expect that at some point, we’re going to have to start to look after them, just as they looked after us when we were younger.

But for many people, they have actually been looking after their mothers their whole lives, from when they were just little kids. They become the helper and caretaker to their mothers, taking on a lot more responsibility than they should for their years.

Often, these mums had kids way too young or had more kids than they could cope with. Sometimes, they might be addicted to alcohol or drugs, or suffer from depression. Their inability to cope means that one or more of their kids ends up stepping up to the plate and “mothers” their mother, as well as the other children, placing an enormous burden on them.

The one who gaslights you

Another behavior to watch for is a mother who tells you that your experience did not happen, that you are the one who is wrong and the other person is right. For example, you were bullied by your mother when you dressed in a way you liked. You might not be able to recognize what you are feeling or why, and you might feel confused about how you ‘should’ react to things.

The one who minimizes your negative feelings

If your emotions make your mom mad or upset that is a sign of toxic behavior. Your mom should never ignore or punish your emotional reactions. As a child, this might have looked like sending you to your room when you were sad or upset. An unhealthy relationship might even mean that your mother changes the subject when anything remotely emotional comes up.

They are unreliable

Daughters with these sorts of mothers never know what they are in for. Will mum be on her best behavior or is she going to be a nightmare? It can be really confusing in dysfunctional mother daughter relationships. One day she might be horribly critical and dismissive and verbally abusive, the next, she might be nice as pie, like a cheesy 1970s sitcom mother.

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Chapter 3:

How to Heal Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationships?

If you have an unhealthy relationship with mom, you often find yourself looking for ways to fix emotionally broken mother daughter relationships. Here are some tips on how to deal with a bad mother daughter relationship:

1. Own your part to fix dysfunctional mother daughter relationships

It is important to look into your own behavior and see why and how you feel or react to something that your mother does in dysfunctional mother daughter relationships. While emotionally broken mother daughter relationships might not entirely be the daughter’s fault, it’s essential that both you and your mother take responsibility for your actions and behaviors Take a look at your side of the fence and try to determine what causes you to respond negatively to your mother.

2. Accept the reality in dysfunctional mother daughter relationships

You try to fix your emotionally broken relationship with your mother, sometimes it is important to remember that not every bond can be fixed. If you feel you are suffering emotional or physical abuse from your mother, the best thing is to cut ties and distance yourself from your mother,

3. Maintaining a decent relationship in dysfunctional mother daughter relationships

There’s no denying that mother-daughter relationships are very difficult, but it’s still important to remember that everyone messes up. Forgiveness is the first step towards the healing process, so make sure you’re quick to forgive, slow to anger, and always remember to ask for forgiveness.

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Chapter 4:

Call to Action

You have to pull back yourself first, and see your mother for who she really is. Admitting the relationship is toxic has little to do with you. Reshape the way you see not only your mother, but the way you see all mothers in general. They are human as well. Be understanding to yourself and invest in some serious healing. Get a coach, get a counselor. Do what you need to do to get refocused on your self-esteem and your future . Become the bus driver in control of the intense emotions. You cannot control her, but you can control the way you respond to her. Honor yourself. Set boundaries. Communicate them. And if your mother still can’t respect you? Don’t be afraid to walk away.