Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Hateful Mother

What words would you use to describe your mother?

*controlling?
*manipulative?
*jealous?
*vindictive?
*jealous?
*disrespectful?
*overbearing?
*evil?

If you are like me, these are exactly the types of words you will use to describe your mother.  Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated.  I think all of these relationships go through periods of ups and downs.  A mature and loving relationship gets through the tough times, mostly unscathed.  Mature people are able to talk through or work through their issues. A dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship is unsteady to its' core.  These relationships either have a wide range of highs and lows, or a flatline of negativity. 

What we should know about mothers who dislike their daughters is that they are usually emotionally immature.  These mothers may have been abused when they were younger, or often had a very unstable and maybe even violent relationship with the father of their child(ren).  They may have been children of alcoholics or drug users, or they may be children of dysfunctional mothers themselves.  Whatever the cause for their emotional immaturity, the result is the same: they are unable or unwilling to have a normal, loving relationship with their child. 

The mother in these types of relationships will constantly sabotage the relationship.  Sometimes, in these relationships there will be periods of normalcy followed by periods or an instance of drama and fighting.  In this respect, the dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship is similar to an abusive romantic relationship.  As in abusive romantic relationships, the abuser (mother) will use manipulative tactics to keep the victim (daughter) in their lives.  An abusive episode will often be followed by attempts to fix the relationship.  The abuser may be very kind and romantic during this period and offer many apologies.  In the mother-daughter relationship the mother may be very nice, and might even apologize.  Sometimes the calm period lasts just a few days, other times it can last for months or even years.  Regardless of how long the calm lasts, one thing is for certain-drama will come again!

The ups and downs are not characteristic of all dysfunctional relationships.  In some mother-daughter relationships the issues are always present, and the drama and negativity persists year round.  Whereas the mother in the up and down relationship may use tactics such as covert manipulation and emotional games, the mother in a flatline negative relationship is overt with her tactics, using intimidation, outright verbal and physical abuse, and domination to subdue her child.  The up and down relationship is more common.

So we have all the psychology-jargon, but what does this mean for you?  Understanding the reasons why a mother would dislike her child is a small comfort for the daughter who is suffering under the weight of feeling unloved.  How does this daughter come to accept the reality of her situation?  It takes a long, long time.  As daughters we try to rationalize the behavior of our mothers, we make excuses for her behavior, and at times we blame ourselves.  We suck up to her, minimize the way we feel, and bury our feelings.  We look for mothers in our romantic relationships, often replaying the dysfunctional dynamic.  We cry, we suffer, and yet we never truly understand why our relationships are the way they are, or what we can do about it.

Perhaps you are not fully convinced that you are in a dysfunctional relationship with your mother.  In future discussions I want to talk a little about my relationship with my mother, and perhaps share the stories of other daughters who are dealing with this.  Maybe in our stories you will see a reflection of your own relationship, and maybe, just maybe you can learn and grow from what others have been through.  As always, I look forward to hearing from those of you who are dealing with these same issues.  I may seem like an expert, but I assure you I am still learning and still trying to find my own way in this sad world of being a child who is not loved.

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