We’ve all dealt with at least one guy with an Oedipus complex. That’s right, I’m talking about men who remain little mama’s boys despite their age and who expect their female partner to continue parenting them.
But what about mommy issues in women? Is that even a thing? Why isn’t this topic addressed as much as the Oedipus complex?
What causes it? What are the signs of mommy issues? Most importantly, can it be healed, and how?
If you read on, you’ll get all the answers you need and more!
What Are Mommy Issues?
Mommy issues are how an unhealthy relationship you had with your mother while you were a child negatively influenced your adult life. If you have mommy issues, it means that the relationship you had with your mom has made a negative impact on your romantic relationships and your relationship with your children.
Can A Woman Have Mommy Issues?
Yes, women can have mommy issues. Mommy and daddy issues are in no way connected to the child’s sex. Actually, it’s a common misconception that females struggle more with daddy issues due to unhealthy father-daughter relationships while mother wounds are reserved for males only.
What Causes Mommy Issues In Women?
Here are the most common causes of a woman developing a mother wound:
1. Childhood abuse
The first trigger for developing both mommy and daddy issues is, without a doubt, the abuse you went through as a child. But let’s be clear about something here: I’m not only talking about physical or sexual abuse here.
There are other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse as well. The worst thing about emotional abuse is that it’s incredibly hard to identify, and victims don’t even recognize it as abuse.
Whatever abuse you’ve been through, it has left consequences on your mental health – one way or another. And if your mother was the primary abuser or the enabler of the abuse (in the way that she didn’t do anything to prevent it), you’ll likely develop mommy issues later in life.
2. Mother’s neglect
Mother’s neglect is another cause of mommy issues. The problem with neglect is that people assume a neglecting parent is just one who doesn’t provide food, shelter, and schooling for their children.
Even though this is horrible treatment, there are other behavior patterns that classify as neglect. For example, if she didn’t provide protection or emotional support in your early childhood, she definitely neglected you.
We’re talking about the most important figure in an innocent person’s life.
If you didn’t feel like your mother loved you enough, who will? If you didn’t feel like you could go to her if you needed advice or just a hug, don’t you think an experience like that would shape you into the person you are today?
3. A clingy mother
However, being completely the opposite isn’t right either. Your child should be the center of your world, right? Well, the thing is that your mom took this concept too literally.
Moms who are overly clingy to their own children aren’t doing them a favor either. We’re talking about a woman who didn’t have a life outside of yours.
Your birth gave her meaning, and all of her love and attention was directed towards you. This might sound amazing at first, but trust, it’s not a healthy relationship.
This woman’s only role was that of your mother. You replaced her partner, her female friends, and her entire family.
And whether you like to admit it or not, this kind of behavior suffocated you, especially in your teen years. She didn’t allow you to be independent and never taught you the importance of setting boundaries.
4. Overly permissive mother
How about a doting mother? Well, that’s not good either.
Yes, your mom should love you, no matter what you do. But that doesn’t mean that she must love everything you do. Do you see the difference?
An overly permissive mother makes you think that you own the world. You have the right to treat people how you please, and you can do whatever you want without any consequences.
When you were a child, you were never disciplined. You were never grounded, and you never suffered the consequences of your behavior.
On the contrary, you were permitted anything. You had unlimited finances, and your mother never told you “no.” And look how that turned out!
Yes, she did this out of love. But at the same time, her behavior enabled bad actions, and that’s never okay.
And what happens when the real world hits you? That’s right, you finally understand that it’s not how things work.
5. Overly protective mother
Finally, we arrived at overly protective moms. I’m sure you know the type.
Look, every parent in the world is scared to death that something bad might happen to their children. Nobody likes watching their kids fall and hit themselves, let alone something more.
But healthy parents know that they can’t protect their children from every bad thing in this world. So they let them learn by letting them go.
However, your mother was different. She kept you in her arms for as long as she could – literally and figuratively.
This woman was afraid of living, and she transferred her irrational fears onto you.
Unlike the child from the previous passage, you were never allowed to do anything. You couldn’t have a boyfriend, weren’t allowed to travel with your friends, she didn’t let you go out…
The list is endless, but the bottom line is that this kind of behavior left scars on you as well. And of course it developed an unhealthy relationship with your mother.
6. Wrong roles
Your mom shouldn’t be your best friend. And you shouldn’t play the role of her mother either.
Why am I telling you this? Well, many toxic moms reverse roles with their children so the kids end up taking care of them.
Or maybe your mother wanted to be cool, so she always acted like your BFF instead of being strict when it was appropriate. This woman obviously had no female friends, so she planned on turning you into one.
Even though these mother-daughter relationships can be all fun and games, at the end of the day, it means that you never actually had your mother play her role while growing up (despite your mom being physically present in your life).
I know what you must be thinking right now: every type of mom and every parenting style can cause mommy issues. It looks like nothing is good enough. So, how should a mother behave to avoid causing a mother wound in her own children?
Well, the emphasis here is on the word “overly.” There is no balance in being overprotective, overpermissive, or overclingy.
What Are Signs Of Mommy Issues In Females?
A complicated relationship with your mother results in other complicated relationships in your adult life, and this is exactly how:
1. Clingy behavior
You tend to be overly needy in all of your personal relationships, especially romantic relationships. It’s more than clear that you crave the attention, love, and validation you didn’t get from your mother when it should have been given to you.
You live in constant fear that your partner will leave you when you least expect it. You’re unaware of it, but you have some serious abandonment issues.
Or maybe you think that being clingy is the only way to show love? After all, that’s what your mother taught you.
If your boyfriend doesn’t give you his undivided attention 24/7, you assume that he’s stopped loving you.
The truth is that you know nothing about healthy boundaries. You’re jealous and possessive, and the worst part is that you don’t even see it.
2. Unhealthy attachment style
According to attachment theory, your attachment style depends on the relationship you had with your primary caregiver. Simply put, you have attachment issues due to the strained relationship you have with your mother.
For example, if you have an avoidant attachment style, it’s because your mother neglected you as a child. The same goes for insecure attachment – you didn’t get enough attention from your own mother and father.
On the other hand, if you have a secure attachment style, it means that you had a loving and caring relationship with your primary caregiver.
What does this have to do with your other personal relationships? Well, you transfer this attachment style to your romantic relationships, relationships with your friends, and everything else in your adult life.
3. Motherly behavior in relationships
Motherly behavior in other relationships is quite common for mommy issues in women. You didn’t have a healthy mother figure in your life, and you think that you’ll compensate for this by becoming a mother figure to your romantic partner or friends.
This is especially true if you are an older sibling. You were responsible for the caretaking of your entire family. You had to worry about your little brothers and sisters’ well-being, and you transferred these behavior patterns to your adult relationships.
Besides, you miss having a mother figure. So you assume that everyone else does as well. For you, this is the ultimate expression of love: raising your romantic partner or best friend.
4. Low self-esteem
You weren’t given enough validation in your early childhood. You were never told that you were beautiful or smart.
But most importantly, your mother failed to show you that you were good enough. The harsh truth is that she didn’t love you how you wanted to be loved.
So now you think that you’re unworthy of anyone’s love. If the person who gave birth to you didn’t see you as valuable enough and if she couldn’t get herself to love and respect you, what can you expect from the rest of the world?
All of this has caused some major insecurities and low self-esteem you don’t know how to deal with properly. You have a distorted sense of self, and at the end of the day, you don’t know how to love yourself.
5. Idealizing other relationships
I hate to break it to you, but you’re a good candidate for love bombing. You’re so desperate to receive the love you never got that you fall for other people’s lies without any hesitation.
How many times have you thought that he was the one? How many romantic relationships did you picture ending up in marriage?
Look, there is nothing wrong with fantasizing. But your problem is that you idealize your personal relationships.
Every time a new person enters your life, you assume that you’ve finally found someone who will heal your inner child and fill your void.
Those expectations put rose-tinted glasses over your eyes. You fail to see someone’s flaws, and you are blind to the red flags.
So naturally, you end up disappointed even more every time!
6. Emotional dependence
You don’t know what healthy boundaries mean. You’re unfamiliar with the term independence.
On the contrary, you’re emotionally dependent on everyone you love. And that creates unhealthy relationships.
You can’t breathe without your partner. You think that your life would be pointless without them, and consequently, you develop relationship anxiety.
This can be the result of many factors, but they’re all related to your toxic mom. If she was too clingy, she displayed signs of emotional dependence, and you were taught that this was love.
On the other hand, if she neglected you, you spent your entire childhood craving her love. And that also could cause this kind of dependence.
Whatever the reason is, the bottom line is the same: you can never allow your happiness to depend on someone else. And that’s exactly what you’ve been doing all along.
7. Excessive criticism
Mommy issues in women are connected with nagging, grumbling, and fault-finding. If you’re one of those moms or wives who keep on criticizing her entire family, this is why you act that way.
For as long as you can remember, nothing you ever did was good enough. You were yelled at and abused in different ways, and you adopted these behavior patterns as normal.
Even though deep down you know that this is toxic behavior, at the same time, you keep on acting in the same manner.
Why? Well, it’s actually pretty simple: you don’t know better.
Here’s a little secret: people don’t like this about you. They don’t care if you’re doing it for their own good – they feel like they’re under constant attack, and nobody feels comfortable that way.
We’ve already discussed overly clingy and emotionally dependent females with mother wounds.
But what about emotional unavailability? Can that be one of the signs of mommy issues in women? Most definitely, yes.
You’re simply scared. The most important relationship you had when you were a child turned out to be unsuccessful.
So, what can you expect from best friends, romantic partners, and other family members?
With time, you’ve developed a defense mechanism. You’ve decided that the only way to keep yourself safe is to keep everyone else out.
You don’t let people see the true you. You’ve built thick and high walls around your heart to protect it.
And you think that you’re doing just fine like that. Well, you’re not. You’re actually missing out on a lot.
9. Trust issues
Trust issues are also very common with females who suffer from mommy issues. It’s actually the same as with love.
The person you should have trusted the most (and the worst part is that you actually did) betrayed you. She backstabbed you and treated you as if you were her worst enemy.
So how could you ever get yourself to trust anyone again? If the woman who brought you into this world deceived you, why wouldn’t some random guy you met a few months ago?
Well, let me tell you a little secret: not everyone is like your mom.
Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean that you should live life recklessly. It doesn’t mean that you should trust everyone who comes your way.
But please, give some people the benefit of the doubt. They might surprise you!
How Can Mommy Issues In Women Be Treated?
Can mommy issues be healed? Can you break the cycle and be a different kind of mom to your children? Yes, and yes. And this is exactly how to do it!
1. Identifying the problem
Acquiring self-awareness is the first step to resolving any problem, including this one. So, as much as it hurts you, you have to go back to your childhood and replay it in your head.
First and foremost, you have to accept that you have had a troubled relationship with your mother forever. This doesn’t mean that you love her any less or that you accuse her of anything right away – you’re just acknowledging that fact.
Which of your mother’s behaviors hurt you the most? How did she impact your life right now? Why was your relationship unhealthy? What could have made it better?
Dig deep inside of you to find the answers because you can’t move on with your healing journey until you do.
2. The strength to forgive
Forgiveness is crucial for every progress! Does this mean that you should forgive your mother even if she were your abuser?
Well, you’re the only one who can answer that question. However, letting go of resentment and hatred will take a huge burden off your chest – I can promise you that.
I won’t lie to you: it would be great to forgive your mother, especially if she didn’t mean to hurt you (disclaimer: I’m not talking about abusive mothers here). This is not an excuse for her toxic behavior, but trust me, she did the best she could.
She loved you the way she considered best. It is likely that she was a victim of toxic parents herself. But unlike you, she wasn’t strong enough to break the cycle.
Most importantly, please forgive yourself. Remember: you’re the victim here, and a little child can never be blamed for his or her parents’ actions.
3. Healing the inner child
Finally, it’s time to heal your inner child. Give yourself what you craved most when you were just a kid.
I don’t care if we’re talking about that toy you never got or more important things such as emotional support or validation. Sometimes, you have to engage in self-parenting practices, and that’s perfectly fine as well.
The point is to do whatever makes you happy. Engage in self-care and learn how to love yourself – that’s the key to everything.
To Wrap Up:
I’ll be honest with you: mommy issues in women are as common as the Oedipus complex. And both conditions should not be taken lightly.
However, as long as you’re here, it means you’re perfectly aware that you have a problem. By just accepting that, you’re one step closer to healing.
Good luck, you’ve got this!