8 types of harmful relationships between mothers and daughters

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8 types of harmful relationships between mothers and daughters

It is very true that all daughters who have had mothers who are unloving and emotionally disconnected have common experiences, which in most cases are harmful and detrimental.

The lack of maternal warmth and lack of validation negatively impact the daughter’s sense of identity, making her distrust or doubt close relationships and shaping her in ways that are both visible and invisible.

Daughters who do not receive love feel very different from other people and learn completely different lessons that they then apply to life and their later relationships, which are not necessarily going to work.

While common painful experiences can be identified, the ways emotionally disconnected mothers interact with daughters vary significantly from couple to couple, and these different behaviors affect daughters in specific ways.

8 types of harmful relationships between mother and daughter

Here are 8 examples of potential mother-daughter relationships that are at risk of becoming highly problematic:

1. The contemptuous mother

Daughters raised by dismissive mothers are at risk of developing doubts about the validity of their emotional needs. They feel unworthy of attention and full of doubts and insecurities, despite having intense longings for love and validation. Here’s how one daughter of this kind of mom describes it: “My mom never paid attention to me or listened to me. She would ask me if she was hungry and although she told her no, she had already put the food in front of her as if she hadn’t said anything to her.

He would ask me what I wanted to do for the weekend or summer, then ignore my answer and make plans for me. And with the clothes… the same. But the important point was another: he never asked me how I felt or what I was thinking. She told me that I was largely irrelevant to her.”

Babies are programmed to seek closeness from their mothers, and herein lies the “problem”: the mother’s need for love and attention does not diminish despite maternal neglect.

In fact, the need can be amplified and lead to an active search for consideration (“if I get good grades in school or if I win that award, then my mother will love me for sure”). Unfortunately, the result often does not change and what happens is a greater contempt on the part of these mothers.

2. The mother not available

Emotionally absent mothers, actively withdrawing from a daughter’s attempts to get closer, or giving love to one son and not another, can create different types of painful consequences. One daughter writes, “My mother was completely emotionally disconnected from me…and she still is.”

Unavailability includes behaviors such as lack of physical contact (hugging or comforting), insensitivity to the baby’s cries, inability to express emotions, poor attention to the emotional needs of the daughter as she grows older, and, of course, physical neglect.

Physical abandonment leaves particular scars, especially in a culture that believes in a mother’s love for her children as a primal instinct. In addition to being extremely painful, this behavior is mostly disconcerting.

3. The overly involved mother

While the first two types of behavior describe mothers who withdraw from their children, this involvement presents the opposite: these mothers do not recognize any kind of boundary between themselves and their children. A healthy and empathetic maternal relationship offers security but also freedom of movement: the child is freed from the mother’s arms so that she can move on her own, the adolescent is advised but also listened to and respected.

All of this is completely missing in overinvolved relationships, where separation is hindered. These women are completely and continuously focused on their children: they live their lives and their successes, in which they are constantly involved.

4. The controlling mother

Like the contemptuous mother, even the controlling mother does not recognize her own daughter. Controlling mothers, however, often “manage” their daughters in everything, actively refusing to acknowledge the validity of their words or choices, and end up instilling in them a sense of insecurity and helplessness.

Many of these actions are motivated by being “for the daughter’s sake,” but rather the message they communicate is that the daughter is inadequate and will fail without her mother’s guidance.

5. The aggressive mother

“Open” warfare characterizes interactions with these mothers, even if the adjective “open” is in quotes for a specific reason: These mothers generally do not acknowledge their belligerent behaviors and are very careful not to engage in them in public. This group includes mothers who actively put their daughters down, are hypercritical, and intensely competitive.

In short, these mothers exploit their power over their daughters, although the words “power play” and “mother” should not be in the same sentence. The combative mother uses verbal and emotional abuse to “win,” but she can also use physical force. She then rationalizes her behaviors, justifying them as necessary because of her daughter’s character or behavioral flaws.

6. The unpredictable mother

This is, in many ways, one of the most difficult behaviors to manage: the daughter never knows if what will appear will be the “good mom” or the “bad mom.” All children form “mental representations” on the basis of early relationships with their mothers, in terms of which they interpret later relationships with objects in the real world. The daughters of these mothers experience relationships as precarious, unpredictable and dangerous.

7. The self-absorbed mother

These moms see their daughters as extensions of themselves. Unlike the overinvolved mother who is intensely and continually focused on her daughter, this mother adjusts her involvement according to what is best for her to nurture her narcissism.

These mothers are incapable of empathy and affective ties with their daughters are superficial in the sense that attention is focused solely on themselves, although they are very interested in the appearances and opinions of others. In fact, from the outside, these women often appear to be very good mothers: they are often attractive and charming, take care of their homes, may have admirable talents or careers, and may show care and concern for their daughters.

8. Reversed roles

This is the stage where a daughter, even at a young age, becomes her own mother’s assistant, caretaker, or even “mother.” Sometimes this pattern arises when the mother has children when she is very young or in situations where she cannot care for them.

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