The thing about toxic mother-daughter relationships is that until you grow up, leave home and discover other people’s family dynamics, everything seems normal.
I was a person that didn’t realise I was in one of those toxic mother-daughter relationships until I began speaking to my sisters after my mother had died. It’s easy to see the abnormal signs in toxic mother-daughter relationships. Things such as physical and mental abuse obviously stick out. But what about the relationships that most people think are normal?
During my mother’s life, my relationship changed with her. As a young child, I was constantly and desperately reaching out to her for any small scraps of attention. As a teenager, however, I grew a thick skin as I became more aware that she was incapable of giving love.
It’s funny. Before I began this article, I never intended it to be a diatribe against my own mother. But as soon as I started writing, I found it all started spilling out. Growing up in a family unit means that most of the time you are enclosed and somewhat isolated from outside influences. To the outside, what is happening to you appears to be normal. Look a little closer, however, and you can see that these toxic mother-daughter relationships are any but normal.
Here are five toxic mother-daughter relationships that appear normal:
Your mother always wants the best for you
Of course, parents want the best for you, that’s a no-brainer, but look a little deeper. If your mother uses your success to boost her own, then she is most likely to be a narcissist, not concerned with you at all.
My mother was much like this. When I was 12, I passed my exams and wanted to go to a local mixed comprehensive where all my friends were going. My mother told me I was going to a posh girls-only grammar school, which for me, coming from a poor family living on a council estate, was a disaster. My mother said it was best for me and would look good on my CV when it came to getting a job. I hated every minute of it but finally realised that it was a good stepping stone to university, etc.
Then when I was 16, my mother pulled me out of the school as she had got me a job in a factory to help pay the bills at home.
Your mother is overly loving
Is it wrong to love your child too much? Perhaps not, but when your mother rarely notices you and then is all over you like a cheap suit, then something is not right. My mother never really noticed me, unless I was ill. Then it seemed like I was the most important person on the planet. I could request whatever meal I wanted, I would be tucked up in bed, could have the TV on in bed (never normally allowed) and other such treats.
However, if I was well, then I had a list of chores to complete before I was allowed to go out with friends. I remember one time falling over at primary school and feeling worried that I would get into terrible trouble when my mother came to collect me. Instead, she was upset and molly-coddled me which confused me greatly.
You try hard to please your mother all the time
It is natural that children want to please their parents. You often see children running to their mums and dads after school, clutching a scrap of artwork and waiting for approval. Children need validation from their parents in order to grow into confident adults. If they don’t get it from their parents, they may have problems with low self-esteem or they’ll feel that they are never good enough. This might lead to them choosing partners that are abusive or demanding or ones that take advantage of them.
It is natural for children to want to impress their parents, especially their mother. But if that mother is distant or abusive, this could be the reason the child is trying so hard. In fact, you often find that children of abusive parents are overly loving towards them.
I remember as a small child, writing ‘I love you Mum’ on a little piece of paper and tucking it under her pillow every night. Mum ignored it. Eventually, I got the message.
Your mother praises you to all her friends
Isn’t it lovely when your mother bigs you up in front of all her friends? My mother made a point of telling everyone she could think of that I has passed my exams to get into the local grammar school. What she didn’t tell them was that I was extremely depressed during the first three months of attendance and ran away twice.
So why is this so significant? Because it demonstrates a mother’s total lack of care for her daughter. She is only interested in her own self-image and it points those narcissistic tendencies.
Your mother has cute pet names for you
My mother used to call me her ‘little Treasure’. Adorable, wouldn’t you think? Yet, in her 53 years she never told me she loved me, she never held me, she never cuddled me and never said she was proud of me.
So calling me by a pet name eventually fell on deaf ears. In fact, it just used to confuse me as other family members would tell me that I was her favourite. Perhaps that was her way of telling me she loved me? I’ll never know.
There are many kinds of toxic mother-daughter relationships that appear to be normal. I’ve spoken about five that personally affected me. Have you experienced any that you would like to share with our readers?