Cold mother syndrome: Emotionally unavailable parents

Written by: Vasundhara Shukla – M. Phil (Psychology)

Last updated date : October 06, 2022

Table of Contents Article title – DBT for anger
  1. Chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8

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Table of Contents Cold mother syndrome: Emotionally unavailable parents.
  1. How to heal from cold mother syndrome?

A person makes a bond with another person by knowing and responding to their emotional needs. This makes them feel connected and encourages the development of a relationship. This is important to feel warmth and affection from others to go through with life. Emotional availability is important to show that you care for the person. Emotionally unavailability is not being responsive to others’ needs. This is especially necessary for a parent-child relationship. Children see their parents as providers of care and love. ‘Cold mother syndrome’ is related to the mental health issues of the mother because of which she neglects the upbringing of the child. Effects of emotionally unavailable parents can cause difficulty in the child’s ability to form warm and loving relationships.

Signs of cold mother syndrome in parents

  • Parents think about themselves first rather than the well-being of the child
  • They fulfill general needs but not emotional needs
  • Children are not permitted to show negative feelings
  • Do not praise the child
  • Expects the child to fulfill the need for warmth and love by himself or herself
  • Does not seem to be present in their child’s life

Social behavior and emotionally unavailable parents

Being raised by a ‘cold’ mother can have an impact on the social skills of the child. This is because even though the parent has been there to provide the necessities to the child but has not fulfilled the emotional needs. The parent has not been able to teach social skills to the child. The child might also feel lonely and sad because of such parenting. 

The cold mother syndrome and suppressing emotions

Such parents do not understand the expressions and gestures through which the child asks for closeness. So despite requests, the child’s needs remain unfulfilled. Then the child starts to suppress his or her feeling and this is continued throughout his life. This creates problems in understanding others and forming relationships. 

Anxiety and emotionally unavailable parents

Children of emotionally unavailable parents tend to be very critical of themselves which makes them less confident about social situations. They continue to suppress their feelings but feel very anxious on the inside when they are around people.

Cold mother syndrome and its effect on child’s relationships

The main effect of this is seen in child relationships in adulthood. The person becomes very distant like his or her parents. He or she either becomes very demanding or dismissive in relationships. Both of these things do not let them form a close bond with others.

Cold mother syndrome and its effect on self-esteem

Such parents tend to blame each other and their children for most things. This reduces the child’s confidence in his abilities. The child grows up to be an under confident person who is unsure of his capabilities. The child also holds himself responsible for problems in the family and feels like a burden.

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Chapter 1:

How to heal from cold mother syndrome?

As a child, you might not be able to recognize this as a problem or do much about it. But as you grow older, you might be able to understand how the behavior of your parents affected you. This might lead to anger towards your mother and will cause fights and blame games with your parents. However, understanding how not to let this affect your relationships will be a better way to deal with this.

Knowing how did your parents cause such problems can stop you from behaving this way in your relationships. There are some ways you can heal yourself in such situations-

Show your feelings

It will be difficult to understand and acknowledge what happened in childhood because you might feel ashamed of it. And might take time to admit it yourself before telling this to others. But acknowledgment is the first step to healing. By telling someone trustworthy about your problems you can take their help to heal. You could also take help from a mental health professional to gain an even deeper understanding of the effects of neglect.

Practice self-love

Cold mother syndrome is when your parents are critical of everything you do. This can lead to self-doubts and can make you dislike yourself. By understanding that you are a person worthy of love, care, and praise, you can undo the damage caused by your upbringing. Just because your parents did not praise you, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a pat on the back.

Create and expand your self-awareness

This is created by turning inwards and understanding who you are, aside from what your parents told you. Your feelings and what you want to do in life. Take the opportunity to analyze how you are feeling. You need to develop the ability to identify the feelings you are experiencing as well as gain control over them.

Be your parent

Just because your parents could not fulfill your needs for closeness does not mean that you will never be able to fulfill them. As we grow up, we create more and more space for meeting like-minded people. You will get to meet people who will be happy to bond with you and help you heal from the past.

Teach yourself to forgive

This is difficult to do when you suffered because of a dismissive parent. You can try to rebuild a relationship with your mother. Now she would not have the power to control you as she did as a child. You can give feedback on her treatment of you as a child. A conversation helps the parent know what hurt you and find new grounds to build the relationship again.

One of the effects of such parenting is low self-esteem in children. Enroll in our course on the same to know how to overcome it.

Reviews 4.1

Learn evidence-based DBT for Anger skills

69 Lessons

6 hours

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

€9.00 €12.00

25% discount