Daughters who blame their mothers for everything are losers, right? I mean, as an adult, at what point do you take responsibility for your own actions?

But can we ever get over trauma or neglect from childhood? Is it right to still carry anger or damage from childhood into adulthood? And how do you handle someone who blames their parents for everything that’s wrong in their lives?

I have a confession to make. I’m always blaming my mother for my own shortcomings, and she’s dead. But am I justified? Are we all doomed to live with the consequences of our upbringing, and how do we deal with daughters who blame their mothers for their own failings?

8 reasons why daughters who blame their mothers for everything can’t move on

1. There’s no clarity or explanation from the mother

Until we have closure, it’s difficult to move on from previous traumatic relationships. We want to understand why someone mistreated or neglected us. It’s hard to let go of blame without understanding what happened.

Did we do something wrong? Does our mother know what she did to us? Is she bothered about how we are affected? This lack of closure is problematic if your mother refuses to talk about your childhood, or if she has passed away.

2. You don’t want her to get away with what she’s done

Daughters who blame their mothers for everything sometimes feel like they’re letting her off the hook by moving on.

When you hang onto blame and anger, you constantly remind her of how she treated you as a child. Her actions are still traumatizing you. If you moved on and didn’t blame her, it’s as if what happened to you as a child didn’t matter.

3. You want to prove how damaging your mother was

Sometimes we fall into the trap of self-defeating behaviors to prove how much our mothers hurt us as children. It’s a defense mechanism that’s easier to fall back on rather than taking responsibility for our own lives.

If we’re not happy and fulfilled, that just proves how bad our mothers were. In fact, the worse our lives become, the more proof we have.

4. Blaming your mother is useful to you

Having someone to blame for everything can be useful to some daughters. Nothing is your fault because your mother was neglectful. You’re the way you are today because your mother was a narcissist.

Because of your mother’s neglect, you don’t know how to take responsibility. You need constant attention (that’s me) because your mother ignored you as a child. Blaming our mothers lets us off the hook.

5. It’s easier to blame your mother than to face up to your failures

Did you ever blame a sibling for something bad you’d done as a child? Blaming someone else removes the consequences of our actions. Someone else is to blame for what we’ve done. We avoid punishment, disappointment, or anger from our significant others.

It’s true that some daughters who blame their mothers for everything find it a convenient excuse. Blaming relieves us of any responsibility over our lives, which lead me onto my next truth about daughters blaming their mothers for everything – control.

6. You have an ‘External Locus of Control’

US psychologist Julian B Rotter developed the theory of Locus of Control. Locus of control is the concept of how much control people believe they have over their life.

A person with an internal locus believes they have the power and control and take responsibility for their actions. Someone with an external locus believes things happen to them and they have little control over their life.

If you already have an external locus, it’s likely you’ll blame your mother for everything that goes wrong in your life.

7. It reinforces your victim status

Victim mode can be strangely comforting to some. It’s like pulling on a soft, warm, snuggly coat that protects you from the world. If you’re a victim, people sympathize with you. But in reality, you’re trapped in this childlike state.

Being a victim is another way of avoiding responsibility. The pain from childhood abuse is so familiar it’s scary to consider leaving it behind.

8. You can use blame against your mother as a weapon

It’s easy to say, ‘My mother damaged me so I can damage you.’ Or ‘I was abused, so don’t expect me to be different’. Studies show that child sex abuse is a ‘predisposing factor for the transition from victim to offender.’

Living with an abusive mother normalizes negative behaviors such as violence, shouting and neglect. As adults, we know these behaviors are wrong, but it’s difficult to break free from this abusive cycle. So, you blame your abusive behavior on your mother because of how she raised you.

Attachment theory and daughters who blame their mothers for everything

mother daughter relationship

We know how childhood abuse, trauma, neglect or disinterest affects us as adults, so why can’t we move past it? Why can’t we work on ourselves and overcome our childhood difficulties?

My mother abused my two half-sisters. She physically tortured them, ignored me, and lavished love and attention onto my brother. As a result, my eldest sister is a people-pleaser, my second sister avoids confrontation, I need constant validation, and my brother is a narcissist.

But why is it so difficult to move past the wrongs from our childhood?

What happens in childhood doesn’t stay in childhood

John Bowlby theorized children need to form secure attachments with their parents. This is an evolutionary technique that helps them survive. Attaching to a reliable person allows the child to move outwards from a secure base, exploring the world, knowing they are safe.

Mothers are still the primary caregivers in society. These early attachments form an internal working model. It’s what we base all our future relationships on.

Sue Gerhardt, author of ‘Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain, says:

“Meaning emerges as the baby begins to recognize whether the mother coming through the door will bring pleasure or pain.”

So, perhaps daughters who blame their mothers for everything are justified. Mothers are supposed to provide love, affection, take care of our physical and emotional needs.

If mothers don’t fulfill these roles, it is natural for daughters to carry these deeply felt insecurities into adulthood, and even pass them onto their own children. I’ve written about Polyvagal Theory which explores the relationship between a mother and baby in more detail.

Knowing why some daughters blame their mothers provides context, but how can we use this understanding moving forward?

It’s difficult to move on from abusive or neglectful mothers until we understand it wasn’t our fault, and we didn’t deserve to be mistreated. Unfortunately, this understanding rarely comes from the abusive mother, so we must find it ourselves.

It is equally important to have a perspective on our childhood. Growing up, we view our parents in different stages. As young children, they are our world and can do no wrong.

As teenagers, we rebel against them as we form our own personalities, then as adults, we begin to see our parents as the fallible people we all are. It is at this stage of growth that we can move past blame and into acceptance.

Under the circumstances, is it ever possible for daughters who blame their mothers for everything to move from anger and self-loathing to acceptance?

What to say to a daughter who blames her mother for everything?

Daughters of Elderly Narcissistic Mothers scars

1. Some people are not equipped to parent

If we view our parents through a different lens, it helps us work through childhood trauma. We all came from somewhere. Our mother was a daughter once too. Perhaps she also had parents who may have been neglectful or abusive.

We learn from who raised us. Our mothers may have simply been passing on remnants from their childhood. They were not deliberately trying to be hostile or neglectful, they simply hadn’t had good teachers themselves.

2. We all have our insecurities and failings

Mothers are not perfect. I understand that if you suffered severe abuse this reason is an insult to you, but bear with me. Mothers are supposed to nurture and care for us. They should devote themselves to our upbringing and make us feel safe.

But mothers have their own insecurities, their own failings and demons. No one is perfect, but by accepting our mothers as fallible human beings just like us we can begin shifting from victim to survivor.

3. Accept we may never get the answers we deserve

My mother died when I was 21. As a family, we never got to understand why she physically abused my sisters, why she idolized my brother, and why she ignored me. By dying, she denied me an explanation for her behavior. How dare she die and leave us without answers? It was just another selfish act on her behalf in my mind.

Now that I’m older, I’ve accepted the fact I didn’t form a secure attachment with my mother. I recognize the triggers from my childhood (needing attention, validation and fear of rejection) derive directly from my non-relationship with my mother.

4. Understand our childhood doesn’t have to define us

I’ve spoken a little about attachment styles. Daughters who blame their mothers for everything will undoubtedly have insecure attachments.

Child psychologists believed early attachment styles remained fixed throughout adulthood, but experts now disagree. The data show that early attachment styles can change. If we have nurturing and loving relationships as adults, our confidence and self-esteem grow. This is called ‘earned security.’

Earned security can come from a close, long-term relationship with a surrogate figure; perhaps a teacher, mentor, family member, friend or partner. This isn’t pseudoscience. Neuroplastic studies show changes in brain structure once we change our thoughts and beliefs.

So, even if childhood abuse damaged your brain, positive relationships can repair it.

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5. You don’t have to forgive, but you can accept and move on

Sometimes childhood abuse is so horrific that forgiveness is not an option. No one is asking you to forgive your mother, but you only damage yourself by blaming her for everything. You know she is to blame for your childhood, but you are responsible for your life.

There is a big difference between acknowledging the problem originated with your mother and assigning blame to her all the time. You don’t have to forgive her to heal yourself.

I find it helps to spend some time imagining how I would comfort my younger self. Why not try it yourself? Pour all that love you missed growing up into your inner child. She deserves to be loved.

Final thoughts

It takes work and effort to move from blame to acceptance. You must recognize your triggers and be vulnerable. Talk to other family members, seek counseling but remember, your childhood doesn’t have to define you.


  1. psych.fullerton.edu
  2. link.springer.com
  3. researchgate.net
  4. Featured image by storyset on Freepik

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Dianne Lininger

    My mother was crazy & abusive but she didn’t ruin my life. However she did cause me a tremendous amount of pain & grief that was completely unnecessary. When she died I was celebrating inside! And every Mother’s Day I celebrate her death by doing something really special for myself.

    1. Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)

      Oh Dianne that’s such a great idea, I’m stealing it!

  2. Maureen

    I appreciate this article, I have struggled over the years to understand my mother. She and my dad raised foster children, but when I was 17, pregnant and boyfriend had broken up with me, My mom knew the social workers and sent me away to “surrender” my infant son for adoption. ONLY because it shamed her and I wasn’t married. She treated me differently from the rest of the children, 4 other biological kids. I forgive and then I wake up and need to forgive all over, it’s been difficult to accept as I just want to feel validated and my anger is not usefull anymore. Mom’s been dead now for 13 years.

    1. Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)

      Hi Maureen, I can sympathize with you. My mother has been dead for over 30 years now and I still suffer from her neglect. It’s a longstanding joke amongst my friends that I need constant validation.

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