A mother is someone who loves and cares for their children unconditionally. They provide warmth, security, guidance, and understanding to help their children grow in positive ways. In many cultures, it is also seen as a symbol of fertility and strength, as mothers are capable of giving birth and nurturing life. A mother is usually one of the most influential people in a child’s life, offering sound advice and wisdom when it is needed most.
Motherly attachment is the bond that develops between a mother and her child. This can be seen as a strong emotional connection between the two, which helps in providing stability, safety, and security for both parties. It helps to create a sense of trust between them so that the child learns to open up about their feelings and thoughts without fear of judgment or punishment. Motherly attachment is essential for healthy growth and development and allows children to explore without feeling abandoned or scared.
Abusive motherhood is when a mother uses physical, psychological, or emotional abuse to hurt her child. It can be in the form of physical abuse such as hitting or any other form of violence, psychological and/or emotional abuse such as verbal or mental insults, or neglecting the child’s needs. This form of parenting can often lead to lifelong issues with low self-esteem, mental health issues, and relationship difficulties. The most important factor is to get help and support if you suspect that your mother is abusive.
8 Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Mother
1. Gaslighting (making the child seem as if their feelings, thoughts, and opinions are wrong)
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse commonly used by an emotionally abusive mother. It is characterized by making the victim question their own reality and the accuracy of their experience by manipulating facts, discrediting evidence, and distorting what happened. This form of emotional abuse can have long-term effects, such as depression and anxiety. Gaslighting also undermines the victim’s self-esteem and sense of security, leaving them feeling powerless in situations with the abuser.
2. Jealousy (holding the child back from achieving goals or enjoying life)
An emotionally abusive mother will often hold their child back from achieving goals and enjoying life. This is because the abuser may be jealous of the child’s potential, or fearful that the child’s success could reveal how inadequate they are. They may also use emotional manipulation to control and belittle the child in order to feel powerful. The abuser may also deploy guilt-tripping as a means of preventing their child from growing and succeeding. As a result, this form of abuse can have long-term negative effects on the development and happiness of the child.
3. Projecting negativity onto the child (making them feel they are a bad person)
An emotionally abusive mother will often project their own feelings of anger, inadequacy and insecurity onto their child. This may involve blaming the child for things that are not their fault or making them feel responsible for the emotions of others. The abuser may also make false accusations against the child and challenge the child’s perception of reality in order to convince them they are a bad person. This form of emotional abuse can have far-reaching consequences, such as self-doubt, low self-esteem, and lack of confidence.
4. Withholding love and affection
An emotionally abusive mother may withhold love and affection from their child, leaving them feeling unwanted and unloved. This form of emotional abuse can be subtle, with the abuser telling their child they don’t care or showing no interest in their life or achievements. Alternatively, it may manifest itself in more extreme behaviors such as violence or verbal outbursts which make the child feel scared and powerless. Whatever form it takes, withholding love and affection can have devastating emotional effects on a person’s development and mental health.
5. Isolating the child (keeping them away from other people and activities)
An emotionally abusive mother may attempt to isolate their child by preventing them from engaging in activities or having contact with others. This can include anything from not allowing the child to attend a school or visit friends and family, to forbidding the child from attending clubs and extracurricular activities. Isolating the child like this has detrimental effects on their development and self-esteem, as well as making them more vulnerable to further abuse.
6. Using guilt-tripping tactics
This could take the form of belittling language, telling the child they are not worthy of love or affection or making them feel guilty for wanting something even if it is perfectly reasonable. Guilt-tripping like this can have a long-term impact on a person’s self-esteem and mental health, leaving them feeling unworthy and powerless.
7. Shaming the child publicly or privately
An emotionally abusive mother may attempt to control their child by shaming them publicly or privately. This could be by belittling or criticizing the child in front of others, such as friends and family, or in private settings such as at home. Shaming a child like this can have long-term effects on their self-esteem and mental health, leaving them feeling insecure and unworthy.
8. Disregarding boundaries (not respecting the child’s wishes and needs)
An emotionally abusive mother may disregard their child’s boundaries, not respecting their wishes and needs. This could be in the form of dismissing concerns or requests as “silly” or trivial, forcing them to comply with demands, or denying them privacy. Failing to respect a child’s boundaries can have long-term effects on their self-esteem and mental health, leaving them feeling unheard and unsupported.
Final thought! Achieving Emotional Health as a Parent: How to Avoid Being an Abusive Mother
The best way to prevent being an emotionally abusive parent is to take steps to understand your own emotions and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is important for anyone, but especially so for parents since they are typically the primary caregivers in a home. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercise, nutrition, and relaxation so that you can approach parenting with calmness and clarity of thought.
It’s also important to be mindful of your child’s feelings, listen to their concerns, and respect their boundaries. If you feel like you’re starting to become overwhelmed with your emotions or angry outbursts, take a moment to step away from the situation and practice self-compassion. Additionally, remember that parenting isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor and it’s ok to ask for help or advice from friends or family members if needed.