The term “toxic mother” is an oxymoron. Mother is not just someone who carries the child for nine months and gives birth. Mother is considered the epitome of love, affection, strength, patience, and everything nice, sweet, and beautiful. How is it possible that a mother is toxic towards her own child?
After all, a mother is not just a mother. She is a daughter, sister, wife/partner, and so much more. Above all this, she is an individual with her own ambitions, dreams, goals, career, interests, and preoccupations.
She also comes with defects and abnormalities in her mindset. When pulled in different directions by the numerous roles she is expected to perform, she may fall apart and turn toxic. The mother’s mental health will suffer. Often, her child bears the brunt of her mood swings and temper tantrums.
This is the story of many individuals, not just mothers. However, when the mother displays toxic behavior towards her child, it can have lasting impacts on the psyche of the child. The child may grow up with defective and maladjusted mindsets.
This article offers you tips to identify toxic mothers and symptoms shown by a child raised by a toxic mother. As a third party, having such information can help you in your interactions with them or even help them overcome their limitations and negative traits.
How to identify a toxic mother?
Growing up did you feel unloved, ignored, and neglected? Was your mother a control freak? Did she often violate your personal boundaries? How often have you been shouted at?
These and more are signs that you have a toxic mother. Read on to know more about the signs of a toxic parent.
When you disagree with her viewpoint, she flares up. She lacks the maturity to resolve differences of opinion in a healthy manner or control her anger. Yelling, name-calling or even violent and abusive behavior are common.
She is highly demanding.
When she asks something from you, she expects you to drop everything and rush to her side and fulfill her needs. She refuses to accept that you have a life of your own. Your refusal may be met with anger, guilt-tripping, criticisms, or complaints.
She is manipulative.
Manipulation is one of the most common behavioral traits of toxic family members. She tries to change your emotions and behavior to fit her narrative. This is often done deceitfully and dishonestly which makes you feel uncomfortable. She may do you a favor only to get you to do something big for her. If you refuse, she will remind you of all the things she has done for you and how much you owe her.
She doesn’t recognize your boundaries.
In your effort to bring some semblance of normalcy in the relationship you would have set boundaries with her. But she rejects and ignores them outright, overstepping them often.
She ridicules your successes.
Instead of feeling proud of you, she mocks, belittles, and criticizes your accomplishments. The reason behind this may be resentment and vulnerabilities coming from her own failures.
She hurts your feelings with her caustic remarks.
Either she doesn’t understand how hurtful her words and actions are for you. Or else, she doesn’t care. If she is doing it on purpose, it can hurt a lot. A toxic mother who physically abuses her young child may turn to verbal abuse as they grow up.
She doesn’t believe in apologizing.
Even when you prove that she is in the wrong and provide evidence to support your claim, she will never admit her mistake. Nor would she offer apologies. She refuses to own up to her words and actions.
She is a control freak.
She would get involved in even the smallest detail of your life and force her decisions on you. She won’t accept your decisions or allow you the freedom to make decisions. From what you should eat and what you should wear every day, she wants to have her say in every single aspect of your life.
She can’t feel empathy.
Empathy is the ability to feel or understand the emotions of another person. This makes her disconnected from you and there is a lack of love and closeness in your relationship with her.
Signs and symptoms of being raised by a toxic mother
The consequences of being raised by a toxic mother can be devastating. The effects need not be confined to your childhood. It can extend to your adulthood as well.
Here are some of the common signs in an adult raised by a toxic parent.
1. You have low self-esteem.
Toxic mothers are known to criticize, deride, mock, and point out the mistakes of their children. As a child, you tend to trust your mother and believe that you are indeed not good enough. These thoughts and feelings can continue into adulthood.
2. You give priority to others.
Living with toxic mothers, you are used to thinking about her feelings and emotions more than yours. You will continue to feel this way as an adult. In your priority list, you will always feature way down.
3. You are always seeking approval and validation.
Constant criticism and disapproval can make a child work harder to earn their love and reassurance. Your yearning for praise and validation can get you into bad relationships and make you stay in one despite knowing it is harmful to your well-being.
4. You feel lost when you come across real mothers.
You are used to a certain image of a mother who is controlling, criticizing, and disapproving. When you meet the loving mothers of your friends, you feel confused and perplexed. You find it difficult to understand why your mother is different from others. And, you fail to understand why your friends talk so fondly of their mothers.
5. You find it hard to process failure.
When you are used to your toxic mother making excessive demands of your time and attention and you are often blamed for not meeting her expectations, the casualty is your confidence and self-worth. When you have low self-esteem and feel worthless, you will have difficulty processing even small failures. It can freak you out and result in temper tantrums.
6. You feel scared of being manipulated.
You have been manipulated all your life by your toxic mother. You expect the same behavior from others as well. This will make you shy away from relationships. Mistrust in people can lead to avoidance behavior.
7. You have trust issues and lack social skills.
With the toxic environment in which you were raised, it is understandable that you have developed trust issues. This will continue to haunt you as an adult and wreak havoc in your relationships. You will have difficulty forming friendships as well. Even talking casually to others will be a problem for you.
8. You find it difficult to love yourself.
The constant tirade of criticism from your toxic parent can create lasting impressions in your mind. Her mocking, belittling, and rude behavior will make you think of yourself as a good-for-nothing. You will have a hard time loving yourself or have an appreciative mentality about yourself.
Many people experience codependency with their parents as they grow. How do you deal with it? Learn what codependent relationships are and how to avoid them from this article here – Dealing with Codependent Parents of Adults.
Impacts of toxic mother on your mental health
Toxic mother is an umbrella term used to define mothers who are hostile and indifferent towards their children. However, the type and intensity of toxic behavior vary vastly. Toxic mothers can have narcissistic or antisocial behavior or may be suffering from OCD.
Your mental health will be impacted depending on your mother’s type of toxicity, its severity, time spent with her, her history of toxic behavior, and if there is anyone else in your life. The presence of a positive adult can cushion the blow of a toxic mother.
Common aftereffects of a toxic mother can vary between poor bonding with your mother and anxiety and depression. In severe cases, you are a likely candidate for alcohol and drug abuse, you may also have trouble forming personal relationships.
In very severe cases, having toxic parents may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the saddest consequences of being raised by a toxic mother is that your own relationship with your children is likely to be flawed.
There is no need to despair that you were raised by a toxic mother and your relationships are doomed to fail. Therapy can do wonders to help you deal with the situation. Therapy sessions help you understand how your childhood shaped your mindset and behavior.
Once you are aware of your defects, you can take positive steps and learn healthier ways to cope with the situation. The most effective therapies available for PTSD are trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and psychodynamic therapy (PE).
Though it is natural for a person raised by a toxic mother to have a difficult and toxic relationship with their own children, it need not be so. You can decide to break the chain and be different.