Difficult mother? Here’s how to heal your mother wound

It’s no secret that many of us have a difficult mother. The thing is – growing up with a difficult mother is not something you manage to just leave behind when you enter adulthood. It’s a burden you carry with you throughout your adult life. Whether you have a needy, co-dependent mother, a controlling mother, a narcissistic mother, a jealous mother, or an emotionally unavailable mother. The mother wound is a very real phenomenon which can spill over into every thread of our being, the way we live our lives, the decisions we make, and how we conduct our relationships.

So for everyone out there who has a difficult mother in their life, here Charlotte Pardy, The Meditative Counsellor – an award-winning psychotherapist who specialises in working with women who have difficult mothers – shares her tips for healing your mother wound.

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Dear Daughter of a difficult mother,

Mother wounds can happen for a lot of reasons, mum may be depressed, bereaved, traumatised, addicted, have mental health issues, or a difficult relationship with her own mother that’s never been resolved.

It’s this difficult relationship caused by her emotional absence that is often at the heart of a mother wound, because the criticising, controlling and at times competitive behaviour takes its toll on you.

You’re just too sensitive.

I never said that.

I’m only trying to help.

This is for your own good.

I wouldn’t do it like that if I were you.

That’s nice, but everyone loves my…

Comments like these undermine your confidence and self-worth, they may drive you towards perfectionism and people pleasing, you may struggle at work and in relationships, you may even worry about passing it on.

I see it so often where women hide their mother wound and try to take it to the grave, they often feel ashamed of not getting on with mum, that there’s something wrong with them, but it’s just not true.

Culturally we tend to put mothers on a pedestal, they can do no wrong, and they always try to do their best, but it’s a fantasy.

Mothers are just as flawed as anyone else

The more we brush it under the carpet the more we allow our mother wounds to thrive, because it stops them, and us from seeking help.

Shame keeps us stuck in the pain and hurt, and it’s time we brought the problem into the light.

You see this hidden hurt can leave us dissatisfied with life, feeling like we can’t achieve our dreams, and by the time we hit our 40s, like it’s too late to change things.

Yet there are women I see in their 60s and 70s who are filled with regret that didn’t do something sooner, especially now they are feeling so much better.

The truth is it’s never too late, you just need the right help and support.

Many women wonder if they can do anything if mum has passed, they often feel left with their mother wound unresolved. I want you to know that healing is possible regardless of if you have contact with mum, are no contact, or even if she is no longer with us.

Acknowledging and dealing with the issues allows us to break the cycle that often goes back generations, meaning we don’t have to hold onto the pain or pass it on to our family.

It takes courage to face the fear, shame and hurt we have been through, it takes faith to know we can come out the other side feeling calmer, more confident, and happier in ourselves.

So, if you are ready to step up and not carry the burden what can you do?

Here are five simple proven strategies I use with clients in my practice.

  1. Recognise that you are feeling shame. You can tell the difference between guilt and shame by asking the question: Can I fix this? If it is guilt the answer is yes, if no, then you are feeling shame. Shame doesn’t belong to you, it has been given to you so give yourself permission to feel shameless.
  2. Understand that you can only fix you. It can be hard to know that we can’t help mum, that if she wants help, she needs to reach out for it. Know that by going through the process yourself that you are showing her it’s possible.
  3. Find your internal compass. If your value and self-worth are always dependant on mum or others you will always be at the mercy of their moods. Find other ways to value yourself such as measuring yourself against virtues or principles you aspire to.
  4. Stop pretending. It’s ok to not be ok is a phrase we hear often, but we also need to stop pretending things are fine when they are not. You’ve probably lived a lot of your life being what you think others want to see, now is the time to put down the mask and be real.
  5. Learn to love yourself. Just because mum struggled to show you the love and care you needed doesn’t make you unlovable. All it means is she couldn’t show you. Let yourself listen to and take onboard compliments, love, and affection not only from others but also from yourself. I promise you, you won’t get ‘too big for your boots’ but you will start to develop your self-esteem.

Healing your mother wound can feel daunting but know you are not alone, there are thousands of us out there.

The five strategies will help you to shake off the shame and start to invest in your self-worth.

Do you have a difficult mother in your life? Are you longong to heal your mother wound? Leave a comment below and share your experience and connect with our community on Instagram here.

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11 thoughts on “Difficult mother? Here’s how to heal your mother wound

  • What you said about mothers are just as flawed as anyone else really struck me, you’re absolutely correct. I don’t know why we hold them to a much higher standard than anyone else. They’re humans and they’re learning and doing their best.

  • I feel like people even me personally sometimes forget that mothers are also humans. They are very brave for sacrificing everything for us, and loving us even when we become difficult.

  • I really think mothers are really one of the greatest given. They love their children and would do anything to keep them safe and happy. After reading this it really reminded me that mothers are humans also, they feel pain and sadness just as much as we do.

  • I have a very close friend of mine who struggles with having a relationship with her mom. It’s like her mother is emotionally unavailable. I never understood it because it was not my reality. This post has put the entire ordeal into perspective for me.

  • I’m very lucky that I’ve got an amazing relationship with my mum but it is surprising how many of my friends have difficult relationships with their mothers. Really useful tips on how to heal from such a relationship.

  • A broken relationship with a parent shapes a person in who they become. It’s important as a parent to take the role seriously. The unfortunate truth is every child deserves a parent but not every parent deserves a child. With any difficult situation, it is important to seek the good in the outcome. May broken relationships make us stronger and wiser and more compassionate towards others, going forward.

  • The tips portion of this article is very lovely, but the start where there are tons of excuses for a mother is hard for me to really swallow. Some mothers are just abusive. There isn’t an excuse for it. We do not make excuses for abusive or absent fathers.

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