Was Your Mother Helpful or Hurtful?

What do you do when the person who is supposed to be your greatest encourager and comforter is actually the very source of your pain?

Many hurting women sit in my office with the question:  “How do you deal with a controlling and manipulative mother?”

Children all over the U.S. celebrated Mother’s Day last week, with extravagant gifts, breakfast in bed and dinners out to show their appreciation for all that their mothers do.

But for some adult and young children, the thought of celebrating Mother’s Day brings anxiety and anger. That’s because too many children grow up in homes that are dysfunctional. Instead of receiving love and tenderness from their mothers, they are met with lies and manipulation. Instead of encouragement and trust, they are given guilt and ulterior motives.

If this is you, I want you to know that you’re not alone. So many women of all ages have or had mothers who were more hurtful than helpful.

I’m not talking about mothers who make their children do the dishes or don’t let them go to parties. I’m talking about mothers who are self-centered. I’m talking about mothers who think nothing about using their children as pawns in their divorce. I’m talking about mothers who guilt their children into caring for them.

Many adults have battled their entire lives feeling as if something is wrong with them. They have believed the spoken and unspoken words of their mothers that say, “You’re not good enough unless you are pleasing me.”

Adults that surface from these maternal relationships often suffer from low self-esteem, a lack of trust in others, and perfectionism, just to name a few.

But I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you, and you didn’t do anything to cause your mother to be this way.

While the Bible does call us to honor our mother and father, many mothers will abuse and distort that scripture to suit their own needs.

I have found in my practice that many women from mean mothers need permission to:

  • Set boundaries. Many children of mean mothers vacillate between building walls to protect themselves, and allowing others to use them as a doormat. Healthy boundaries let others know what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in your life. Just because you share DNA with someone does not give her the right to trample your boundaries.
  • Live your life. Many mean mothers will frequently guilt their children into caring for them and even use the Bible as a weapon. But the fact is, a mother is to train her children in the way they should go. The key word in that sentence is “go.” As we reach adulthood, we break free from the childhood chains and we press forward towards the unique plan that God has for our lives. There is nothing wrong with caring for a parent in need but when there is no need, only manipulation, it’s time to give yourself permission to live your life.
  • Many adult children of mean mothers struggle between feeling extremely angry and guilty. They feel as if they shouldn’t feel the way they do about their mother. But the truth is you are angry for a reason, because you have most likely been violated. Instead of bouncing back and forth between anger and guilt, forgive. If you have not forgiven your mother for all of her wicked ways, it’s time. Forgiveness is not a free pass, nor is it permission to restore trust. What forgiveness is, is a release from the burden of this hurt. Trust needs to be earned. If your mean mother continues to behave in such a way that violates your heart, trust should not be given.

When you hear stories about girls having great relationships with their mothers, it’s enough to make you feel like you have been jilted. But God knows what you need. If you keep your heart open to what He has for you, He will bring the people that you need into your life.

You don’t have to tolerate being controlled and manipulated.

Join in the conversation, there are many struggling women that would appreciate knowing they are not alone.

3 replies
  1. Heather Hancock
    Heather Hancock says:

    My mother was and is a narcissist. My childhood was filled with her emotional, verbal and physical abuse. No child should have nightmares where the bogeyman is their own mother, but I did. The final straw for me was when my mother blamed me for leading a 65 year old man on at the age of 12 which resulted in him sexually molesting me. Not only did she blame me, she and my aunt took turns for 2 months after badgering me incessantly to tell them exactly what I had done to lead him on. Once that torture was over, it was swept under the rug and has never been mentioned again to this day.

    Have I forgiven my mother? Yes. I have also released her from all obligations to be the kind of mother I needed her to be, recognizing that she has zero remorse and zero ability give or receive love. I have placed her in God’s hands and interact with her when I need to on superficial levels.

    Do I love my mother? Yes.
    Do I like my mother? No.

    I have spent the last 25 years establishing healthy boundary lines and holding them as she tried to bust them time and time again. Those boundary lines are now solid and she no longer tries to violate them.

    I hope that my story helps others to know that not only can they survive the narcissistic abuse of their childhood, but there is hope for their future. They can overcome and thrive!

  2. krisreece
    krisreece says:

    Thank you for sharing Heather. I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve had to endure but glad that you have moved to a place of healing and healthy boundaries. Thank you for your vulnerability, it will help so many women that feel that something is wrong with them. Many blessings to you!

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