Growing up without a mother can feel incredibly lonely. However, there are psychological issues that can arise due to this single-parent dynamic.

There are definite psychological effects of growing up without a mother. Absent parents leave long-term imprints on growing children that can affect relationships, education, and many other aspects of life. This is more evident when children grow up without a mother. Cognitive and non-cognitive abilities are fostered by parental guidance.

“A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”

Princess Diana

What Are the Psychological Effects of Growing Up Without a Mother?

If you’ve grown up without the influence and teaching of your mother, it’s probably been confusing. Maybe you’ve noticed differences between you and your friends, coworkers, and partners. And, honestly, things are different, down to your mindset even.

There are several psychological effects of growing up without a mother. Let’s take a look.

1. Unhealthy relationships

Growing up without the emotional support of a mother can prevent a child from understanding their feelings. When entering intimate relationships, you may find yourself unable to communicate properly, respect your partner, or exhibit healthy intimate behaviors.

Not having the teachings and emotional support of one parent, especially for extended periods, can drastically affect how you view relationships in general. And considering a parent was absent, you will also have problems understanding the feelings of your partner as well.

2. Commitment issues

Whether it’s an intimate relationship or friendship, commitment may be difficult for you. When you grow up without a mother’s love and devotion, these feelings may not come naturally to you. You will probably be less likely to engage in meaningful long-term relationships because you are afraid of losing your loved one later on. This is especially true if your mother has passed away. The fear of commitment becomes instinctual.

3. Educational effects

Children who grow up without a mother may have short and long-term cognitive effects as pertains to formal education. In fact, if you did not have your mother growing up, your grades may be lower, and you may not have attended college.

Studies in China show that motherless children indeed had a lower percentage of university attendance. And, overall morale and willingness to learn are decreased as opposed to the motivation of children with two parents in the home.

4. Heightened stress levels

Children raised in a single-parent home, especially one void of a mother figure, suffer from stress. If you’ve lost your mother to death or separation, any trauma in life may feel stronger and more threatening. This is because a mother is more likely to buffer the child from various hurts and dangers.

Mothers provide emotional support during times of trouble, and without them, this support is gone. In the absence of the mother, these dangers become more terrifying, thus an increase in anxiety and anxiety disorders.

5. Increase in depression

The lack of parental support in early childhood may contribute to depression as well. The reason for this is interesting and makes sense. If you are without a mother in early childhood and into adulthood, you may suffer from low self-esteem, no personal control, and problems with family members causing estrangement. These three factors, when present, can cause depression.

6. Social anxiety

Unlike other forms of anxiety, social anxiety involves directly dealing with other people daily. The absence of a mother can make you feel self-conscious and awkward. This may be because of the inability to bond with a mother figure, thus causing the inability to bond with women in adulthood.

You could have trouble talking to men or women if you don’t understand them or yourself very well. Social anxiety can also breed distrust that further isolates you from others.

7. Complacency

Growing up without a mother can cause complacency in life. If you are an adult product of a single-parent household, you may feel as though there is a hole inside. This emptiness can prevent you from moving on and growing stronger. It can hinder your goals and put a hard stop on your dreams. If you cannot deal with these feelings, you will be unable to heal from the loss or absence.

Learning to heal

There are many reasons why you may have grown up without a mother, but, among all the negative psychological effects that come from the situation, there is hope. Many people that come from single-parent households learn how to cope by becoming independent and helping others.

However, it is important to seek professional help as early as possible, so you understand what you’re going through. Then, you can use your skills of survival to thrive and teach others what you have learned. You can navigate your new life. So, if your mother was absent from your life, it’s time to face this truth head-on. I wish you the best in rebuilding your confidence and dreams for the future.

Good luck!

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Daphne

    Good insights. This also applies to women whose mothers were so distracted, busy, angry, or perhaps mentally ill. Emotional neglect has an invisible but corrosive effect on children and inhibits their natural development. This is sometimes the case of the mother having had a difficult relationship with her own mother. When such vital connections are absent, a girl grows up feeling isolated, lonely, and unimportant. She is left to her own devices when she is faced with difficult issues. That can make the girl quite vulnerable, as she will seek understanding and affection from others who might exploit her. She’s likely to make poor decisions or enter into unhealthy relationships. When she becomes a mother to her own child, she has no self-confidence. It’s not enough to just have a mother; having a negligent or abusive mother can inflict as much, if not more, damage. To survive this and find her way to being whole, a girl needs a lot of determination and patience. When she becomes a woman, she is unprepared. Unless this cycle is broken, many families just repeat the same mistakes from generation to generation.
    A mother’s presence and her willingness to fully engage are vital to a daughter’s well-being and to her positive development.

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.


    I am that girl that wasn’t the perfect mother to her son. I was young, with low self-esteem, and ill-prepared to make the right decisions. I drank smoked pot, and let my little boy spend much of his time in his playpen. I fed him, clothed him, and kept him safe. But there was some level of emotional support and comfort that I did not provide as I should have. I discussed this with him since he’s become an adult, and we’ve had arguments too. I know that he must heal, and I am still healing. Yes, I feel regret for the things I did not provide emotionally, as I was not given these things as a child either, and thought it was normal. However, we’re working on things, and I hope some other young mother sees this and realizes that her priorities are her children. If they aren’t given the love and emotional support they need, it will damage them. God forgive me as I try to be a better person every day.
    Thank you for reading.

  3. Terrance

    I’m a 28 year old AA male who grew up without a mother, I never thought to research my own circumstances until now. Reading this really helped me. Now I understand much more about why I am the way I am. 🙏🏿

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      Thank you for reading, Terrance. I appreciate each and every one of you. Be blessed.

  4. Mary

    I also grew up without a mom she was emotionally absent since I was age 9.she had cancer and stayed in her bedroom and bed all day.I didn’t have anyone to feed me cloth me guide me…

  5. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    Mary, I am sorry. Not having this emotional bond with your mother is heartbreaking. However, when healing, remember that this was something difficult for your mother to do. I did not go through this myself, as I lost my own mother to cancer when I was 25. So, I had the opportunity to bond with her. But, I will tell you this, for some reason, I and my mother were still not that close. As I think of her, I have trouble remembering many of her personality traits and such. I simply did not know her. Instead, I spent more time getting to know my aunt who was more open and conversational with me.

  6. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

    With that being said, was there someone in your life that took the place of your mom? Or, did you go it alone in that maternal aspect?

  7. Anne

    My mum passed away when I was 11 but she had been in and out of hospital for 2 years. My father was an abusive man and I had no one to turn to for guidance, wisdom or just a hug. I grew up feeling alone and unwanted. I find it hard to make friends and allow people to get close.

    1. Deborah Whaley

      I also grew up without a mother, I was placed for adoption at birth….adopted at 14 days old. Grew up in an alcoholic home….adopted parents divorced when i was 10. I was placed in psychiatric hospital at the age of 12. And was there about 8 months, then from there, girls homes, detention center, and at 13 I was placed in Palestine Tx. In a behavior camp for girls. Stayed there living in the woods for 15months. Never got out of all that mess till i was 17. Courts forced adopted mother to take me back. Says she was my legal guardian and that they have NO reason to keep me!!! I was released on 6months probation. Which ended up getting extented to 1 yr bcuz of a dirty UA.( smoking weed). At 17 I got a job and some awesome lady allowed me to rent a 1 bedroom studio all bills paid apartment on a probation period…says im really supposed to be 18 to rent!!! God made a way!!! Im 50 yrs old now….and im STILL Suffering without a mother!!!! Ive Never Recovered!!!!! I struggle in many aspects of my life…im so fucked up…i just isolate…i have 5 kids of my own 1 grown and 4 younger ones still in school. My husband is psycotic and always angry…treats me like shit all the time…has even told me before…your own mother dont even want you!!! And that we all know you was raised by wolves….I Need My Mom!!! But will never have her….At age 26 I paid for a private investergatr to locate my birth mother…. I came from an adoption agency…they knew her name…they just wouldn’t tell me!!! Even after i paid the $400. To locate her. 1 week later they found her!!! In Everrett Washington…. They told me unfortunately she does NOT want to meet you!!! WTF!!!! Who does that!!!! I could never abandon my kids…no matter how bad they piss me off!!! 2 weeks later the agency called and sai, your mother has had a change of heart and wants to meet.!!! I was So Excited!!! She flew here to Dallas, I met her….she wouldn’t tell me at first who my birth father was…she did finally tell who he was…said she was embarrassed to tell me because he was in prison. I ended up getting on his visitation list and driving 8 hours to a prison unit in Amarillo Tx. My birth dad was needing an address to parole to…none of his family would allow him in their home…they all said he was crazy… But of course, as bad as i wanted a family…i let him parole to my address…and…he was Crazy!!! Not really crazy…aggressive and racists!!! All the visits and letters we had prior to his release he Never showed this side… He said his Anger was bcus I had a child by a black man…he said that aint his grand daughter…. My birth mom is white and my birth dad is Hispanic. Things didnt end well…. Birth mom divorced her husband of 27 yrs to move out of her family home and got her a 2 bedroom apartment…and had my birth father transfer his parole to Everett Washington…. Then they both cut me off!!! And refuse to have contact with me…that was 24 yrs ago….. Humans Suck!!!! Deb.

  8. Elina

    Hi, my mom die when I,was 8 yers old.
    My father was gone most of the time, my older siblings where older so they left home.
    I was left with the responsibility of taking care of the younger ones I was old like 12 years olde I left too. I worked since then and would still help with money to support my younger brothers. It has been very hard , now I am and adult but secretly I feel so inadequate most of the time.🙁🙁

  9. Carolyn

    Hello, my name is Carolyn. My grandmother did a lot of the raising in my childhood. My mom was emotionally absent whe she left my dad. I have never gotten the right support. When I had my first break up my mom didn’t hug me she told me to cry in the bathroom. She never showed love. When I was 18 I moved out of the house and tried be independent. I was assaulted in 2018. I was to afraid to tell my mom so the ambulance came and picked me up with the sirens off cause I was scared she would yell at me. But when she found out I was in the hospital for it she yelled and said it was all my fault and my boyfriend at the time was in bootcamp and she told me he would not love me and he will leave me. And she made me go to work after it happened. At the time we were working together. I was sick and scared I ended up having and eating disorder as soon as that happened mom would call me fat. So long story short my grandmother passed away September 26th and it has been hard cause she stepped into be my mother and gave me love and support. I feel like I have been really struggling the past couple months I can’t trust my mom or uncle at all.

  10. Akash

    I have no mother and father is lived long distance I live with my aunty and uncle they are always gives me negative thoughts I’m feeling very bad because when I go to read my grandmother say some bad word and I stop studying help right now I am 18

  11. Greg Wade

    My mother r was an alcoholic. Lots of fighting between parents I guess, divorced when I was 8. Never knew a mother’s love. Thought things were normal, never knew love until my friends mothers passed away (59) and I began to understand.
    Love is a vast part of a person’s life. I feel like I am missing a part of “love” ftom my life, like a peice of pie missing from a pie. I just don’t know what piece is missing because I never had it. YES, I damn sure know something is missing. True meaning of deep love?

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