The Effect Toxic Mothers Have on Daughters

In a previous post, I talked about 5 signs of your your mother is toxic.

While every story I hear about a toxic mother is different, there is one thing they all have in common—the traits they leave behind.

Please understand, the term “toxic mother” isn’t necessarily referring to an evil person (although, this certainly can be the case).  Sometimes, it can refer to a mother who is broken and has not sought proper help to raise healthy, emotionally well adjusted children.

So, whether your mom was evil to the core or just broken, the result is the same – the traits they leave behind.

This is because in the early formative years, the messages that a daughter receives from her mother begin to form her self-image and overall sense of security. If the mother is critical, withdrawn, controlling, or abusive, it will affect many parts of the daughter and make it very difficult for her to form healthy relationships.

Some of the most common traits exhibited by daughters with toxic mothers are:

  • Lack of confidence. Bad mothers are typically hypercritical and/or controlling. The critical and inconsistent messages that the daughter receives throughout her lifetime leave her feeling insecure and stifle her self-confidence. They also create conflicting messages in the daughter’s own heads. Regardless of how much she tried to change it, the broken daughter will always hear messages playing in her mind that she isn’t good enough, or isn’t a good daughter.


  • Forming unhealthy attachments in relationships. Broken daughters tend to be attracted to relationships with friends and romantic partners who are just like their mothers. On the surface, the daughters see their friends or partners as a different person, but eventually the spitting image of the mother surfaces. It can also be true that the daughter resists forming any relationship due to a lack of trust.


  • Hyper-sensitivity. Broken daughters who grew up with bad mothering tend to take many things personally. They are often offended by others’ actions or words. And many mistake joking or teasing as a full-on attack and therefore instinctively go into defensive mode, attacking, withdrawing, or seeking vengeance, all of which can be damaging to relationships.


  • Lack of boundaries. Many broken daughters have a strong desire to please their bad mothers. They frequently battle with feeling like they are always being victimized by others. They struggle with being able to say no as they interpret “no” as a lack of love. And since many broken daughters are people pleasers, the battle wages strong in their mind: “Why do I always say yes, when I’d rather say no?”


  • Lack of trust. When the key person in your life turns out to be someone you cannot trust, it inevitably affects all other relationships. Many broken daughters find it difficult to form quality friendships and receive compliments from mates. As a result, broken daughters are constantly requiring others to ‘prove’ themselves. Deep down inside they believe that relationships are unreliable.

If you are struggling with a broken relationship with your mother, there is hope. My course “How to Deal with Toxic People” can help you say goodbye to guilt and hello to healthy boundaries in a God honoring way. Click here for more info:

My book Build a Beautiful Life Out of Broken Pieces can also help as it guides you through how to overcome the negative thoughts that spiral out of control in your mind.

In my next post on toxic mothers and broken daughters, we’ll explore how to set boundaries with toxic mothers without feeling guilty.  In the mean time, grab your FREE Toxic People Survival Guide to learn how to identify and deal with difficult people.

8 replies
  1. Ester Hunter
    Ester Hunter says:

    I never realized the effect of a broken mother had on me. I relate to all of them. I struggled all my life with many of these traits thinking perhaps I was just a bad person. The biggest one that has effected me is trusting. Thank you so much for writing this.

  2. Tamicca carton
    Tamicca carton says:

    This was useful and helpful!!!!! I’m so glad to see others whom struggle like me and never understand the damage it creates within us!!!! Glad to see forum like this and the resources to fix it

  3. Sunitha
    Sunitha says:

    Thank you, very insightful read. I totally understand the situation. I thought I was all alone & didn’t believe it most of the time, it took me 42 years to realise.
    It hurts

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