Mothers are strong and divine human beings. They carry you for nine months in their bellies without ever complaining. After that, they feed you, cook for you, dress you, and love you unconditionally.
But sometimes, even mothers can fail in their parental roles, and that’s when they become toxic.
• Perhaps a mother’s intentions were pure, but she failed to express them the right way, so the child ends up being raised in a toxic environment, which can influence their further growth.
• We shouldn’t forget that a mother is never just a mother. She has many roles that she either imposed on herself or is expected to perform by others or society.
• Also, we shouldn’t forget that sometimes even our mothers grow up having a toxic relationship with their parents, which later on shifts to their children. Speaking of a vicious cycle.
But not all hope is lost!
By learning more about the toxic behavior characteristic of a toxic parent, you have the opportunity to break that vicious cycle and protect yourself and your current or future children.
Below you’ll find the most common 8 signs you were raised by a toxic mother, behaviors of a toxic mother, and how this influences your mental health.
8 Signs You Were Raised By A Toxic Mother
If some or all of the following signs resonate with you, then chances are you were raised by a toxic mother:
1. You can’t help yourself but put other people’s needs before your own
When you were a child, you always gave your best to please your mother to win her love and affection. But that seldom or never happened.
As a grown-up, you still feel the need to prioritize others before yourself. Setting boundaries is really challenging for you.
You cannot focus on your own needs because you feel responsible for other people’s happiness and well-being (just as you feel/felt responsible for your mother’s happiness).
Because of that, you often end up being taken for granted, and you attract people who feed off your love and empathy, like players, narcissists, and similar.
2. You feel like you’re not and will never be good enough
Of all the 8 signs you were raised by a toxic mother, this one is one of the most painful. You struggle with low self-esteem and constant perfectionism.
Being hard on yourself has become your daily routine. If your mother ever acknowledged your worth and gave you unconditional love, you’ll feel like you were never deserving of it in the first place.
In other words, you feel like you’re not and will never be good enough no matter how hard you try to grow and accomplish things in life.
Because of that, you might end up overworking and pleasing others while neglecting your own well-being.
You’ll do all that only to prove to yourself and others that you are good enough and worthy of love and attention. However, this game of chasing perfectionism will only result in more disappointment.
3. You constantly seek approval and validation from others
This one is connected with the previous sign. If you feel like you’re not good enough, you’ll also feel the need to constantly seek approval and validation from others.
Regardless of whether it’s something regarding your job or outfit, your choices (self-esteem and self-worth) will greatly rely on other people’s opinions.
If they say that they don’t approve of something, you’ll instantly feel the need to change it and adapt to their preferences. Seeking validation soon becomes like breathing.
The more you depend on others, the more you lose yourself. “I don’t know who I am anymore” is a sentence you hear yourself saying often.
4. You have difficulty making decisions (even the simplest ones)
If you grew up with a controlling parent, chances are you’ll have difficulty making decisions both as a child and as an adult-child. Even the simplest tasks, such as choosing between two T-shirts, will overwhelm you. Why?
Because you’re scared of making a mistake. That is why you often resort to serious overthinking before making a final decision. However, I’m not talking about a healthy amount of overthinking, but the kind that ruins your mental health and causes insomnia.
The more serious the decision you need to make, the more frustrated you feel. The pressure is high. If your mother never allowed you to make mistakes, you’ll feel enormous pressure to avoid failing at anything, which is connected with making a wrong decision.
5. You have difficulty accepting and processing failure
Did your mother always criticize you whenever you made a mistake or failed at something? Did she make you feel incompetent?
If yes, then you know why you have difficulty processing failure. Let’s say that you fail an exam or fail to create a project the way your boss expected you to. How would this make you feel?
Let me help you. If you grew up with a toxic parent, you’d immediately feel like an ultimate failure who is not allowed to make mistakes.
You’ll feel disappointed not only in yourself and your boss or parents but also in the whole world. In such cases, tantrums become inevitable.
You process even the smallest failures for weeks and even months. You have difficulty understanding that you’re allowed to make mistakes, and this doesn’t make you less worthy.
6. You have severe trust issues
If your mother had manipulative tendencies, chances are you’ll develop trust issues toward other family members, your best friends, partners, and other people in your life.
You’ll have difficulty opening up to other people because your first thought is that they’ll hurt you one way or another. Your toxic relationship with your mother is a prototype of every other relationship you’ll have with others.
You don’t trust anyone, and you need lots of time and testing of other people’s intentions before you decide to trust them.
7. You have an avoidant-attachment style
If your parent-child relationship wasn’t healthy, you would become a legit candidate for developing an avoidant-attachment style during adulthood. Here’s how the psychology of avoidant-attachment style is explained by Insider:
“When our needs aren’t met consistently by our primary caregivers, we form the belief that they won’t be met by any significant other, [and] that we can’t ever rely on others.”
If you feel like you can’t rely on your potential partner, you’ll avoid investing in them emotionally to protect yourself. Sometimes, you’ll avoid relationships altogether.
Emotional unavailability might take its toll and block you from forming a healthy and meaningful relationship with others. Even if the person is right for you, you’ll still find a way to justify your refusal or inability to commit.
You’ll do all this out of fear that you’ll be hurt like you were hurt by your parent(s).
8. Lack of self-love
Have your emotional needs ever been met by your mother? If not, you’ll have a hard time loving yourself and creating healthy relationships with others.
If you’ve never experienced a mother’s unconditional love, you’ll feel undeserving of it. Subconsciously, you’ll think that you’re the one to blame for not being properly taken care of and loved as a child.
You’ll feel the consequences of this in every aspect of your life, from communicating with others to your job performance. Lack of self-love means having low self-confidence and not believing that you can achieve greatness.
It can also manifest as social anxiety, fear of public speeches, and fear of being the center of attention in general.
8 Most Common Behaviors Of A Toxic Mother
Now that we’re done with the 8 signs you were raised by a toxic mother, it’s time to check out the behaviors of a toxic mother.
This will help you understand your parent-child relationship with your mother better. More importantly, it will prevent you from making the same mistakes as your parent:
• Manipulation, guilt trip, and gaslighting.
Manipulation, guilt trip, and gaslighting are the most common signs of a toxic parent. A toxic mother will manipulate her child into doing what she wants and not what’s best for her child. She’ll use guilt trips and gaslighting to establish control and create confusion.
• Unrealistic expectations.
Healthy parents give their children space to make mistakes. Toxic parents are highly demanding, and if you don’t meet their expectations, they give you the silent treatment or resort to physical or verbal abuse.
All children make mistakes, get their clothes dirty, and are stubborn because they’re children, and this isn’t something mothers should take too seriously.
If a mother can’t help herself but overreact every time a child makes even a minor mistake, this can leave severe consequences on her child.
• Criticizing your accomplishments.
Toxic mothers don’t acknowledge their children’s accomplishments.
Instead, they use every opportunity to keep reminding their children that their accomplishments are not something worthy of celebration.
They treat their children this way because they aren’t satisfied with themselves in the first place, so they project it on their children.
• Inability/unwillingness to respect boundaries.
Setting healthy boundaries is impossible. If you try to set boundaries, she will instantly reject them and ignore them.
Respecting boundaries would interfere with her manipulative and controlling behavior, and that’s why she’s hesitant to implement it.
Also, she has difficulty understanding the need for establishing boundaries and what the concept of a healthy relationship actually looks like.
• Lack of empathy.
Being raised by a toxic mother is often connected with a lack of empathy. This is especially true if we’re talking about narcissistic abuse by a narcissistic mother or narcissistic parents. Such people don’t understand the consequences of their words and actions.
Even if a child tells them how they feel when they’re treated like that, their parents express zero concern and empathy. Instead, they resort to blame-shifting and making the child feel responsible for receiving this treatment from them.
• Controlling behavior.
Toxic people’s main method of manipulation is, without a doubt, controlling behavior. You know you’ve been/you’re being raised in a toxic family if one or both of your parents exhibited such behavior.
This includes controlling your social media behavior, your hobbies, your wishes, choosing friends for you, and similar.
Because of that, children start suffocating and feeling like they don’t have a choice. As a result, in the future, they become indecisive adults who have difficulty making even the simplest decisions.
• Not feeling the need to apologize or admit her mistakes.
Both parents and children make mistakes. We all do. But do you know the difference between healthy parenting and toxic parenting?
The main difference is that toxic parents will never feel the need to apologize to their children because they think they’re superior to them.
They will never admit their mistakes out of the fear that this will make them lose authority in the eyes of their children.
Losing authority = losing power. The real truth is that children appreciate and respect parents who don’t have a problem admitting when they’re wrong and apologizing for it.
What Do Toxic Mothers Say?
Toxic mothers tend to belittle their children, invalidate their opinions, compare them to others, blackmail them, make them question their worth, and so on.
Toxic mothers often unconsciously say hurtful things to their children because of their internal or external mental struggles. Here are some examples:
• “Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re too small, fat, ugly, too thin.”
• “I don’t understand why you have to act so weirdly?”
• “Why do you talk like that/walk like that?”
• “I wish you were different.”
• “You have no idea how hard it is to take care of you.”
• “Why do you have to be like that? Why aren’t you like other children?”
• “You’re useless and stupid!”
• “You’ll never make it because you’re incompetent.”
• “If you keep behaving like that, I’ll leave you.”
• “Do this/say this one more time, and you’ll never see me again.”
• “If you do (this), I’ll buy you (this).”
• “How dare you contradict me?”
• “I don’t remember giving you permission to speak to me.”
The Influence Of A Toxic Mother On Your Mental Health
If you’ve carefully read these 8 signs you were raised by a toxic mother, you already know the answer.
Being raised by a toxic mother impacts your mental health in various ways, and all this depends on the amount of time spent with her, the severity of her toxicity, and other factors.
Being raised by a toxic parent can also result in having a toxic relationship with your own children.
Protecting Yourself Is A Must
If the above 8 signs you were raised by a toxic mother resonate with you, I’m truly sorry for what you had to go through or are still going through.
Remember that being raised by a toxic parent is not your fault. You’re not responsible for their behavior, and no matter how hard you try to be “perfect” for them, you’ll never succeed. Why?
Because the problem is not you but them, to be more exact, the problem lies in the battles they’re fighting with themselves, so they end up projecting them on their children.
Protecting yourself from a toxic parent is a must, and you can do it by setting boundaries and learning to separate your self-worth from their toxicity.