Ten Reasons Adult Daughters Stay Connected to Toxic Mothers

4 Sep

Some adult daughters…

  • Feel that limiting contact or cutting off contact with their Toxic Mothers will somehow reflect badly on them. They worry that others will wonder what’s wrong with them if they can’t even maintain a relationship with their own mothers.
  • Hold onto the hope that their Toxic Mothers could “get better” or suddenly become more loving towards them.
  • Fear retaliation from their mothers for limiting or cutting off contact that could include being barred from family activities and holidays.
  • Figure that even a negative relationship is better than no relationship at all.
  • Maintain contact in order to monitor younger siblings and intervene when necessary.
  • See their bad relationship with their Toxic Mothers as the only conduit to a father they still love dearly.
  • Can’t let go of a shared history, even if it’s mostly negative.
  • Hope that their Toxic Mothers might miraculously make wonderful grandmothers.
  • Wonder deep down if their Toxic Mother’s aren’t right about them.
  • Can’t see their Toxic Mothers simply as other adults. They can’t see their Toxic Mothers as people. And because they can’t judge their Toxic Mothers as they would any other adult they stay connected.

13 Responses to “Ten Reasons Adult Daughters Stay Connected to Toxic Mothers”

  1. tappmonkey September 4, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    I used to feel uneasy about cutting out contact with Mom.

    I used to worry that my brothers wouldn’t want to have me at family functions. What was I thinking? Why would I want to celebrate life’s moments with grown men who have never had a relationship, have no friends? I make my own family functions.

    I used to think Mom would somehow see the light and change her ways, after years of efforts made to change myself in order to please her. there is nothing I can do, ever, to make my mother happy with me. It isn’t going to happen. It’s NOT am impossibility, but she has to want to be happy with me and that seems like its never going to happen.

    I kept the relationship going, thinking that I should at least keep visiting her, in spite of how uncomfortable she made me feel.

    Thankfully, I never sought to intervene with my siblings lives; I have three brothers, none of whom can do anything wrong because they are her ” Boys.” (Did I just see you cringe too when you read the term ” Boys?”) They don’t need my help.

    My father died 30+ years ago. I should have ended my relationship with my mother then.

    It’s too bad I’ll have to transcend our shared history. I guess it’s a small burden. But I can write my own history. Now is the time.

    Yes, I thought maybe she’d become a good grandmother. Let’s say she was to my son. To my daughter she was almost as negligent as she was with me.

    If my mother was right about what she says about me, than why do I have so many awesome friends? Why are my adult children such good people? Why do I have this wonderful marriage?

    Once I got a good, clear look at my mother and our relationship I determined it wasn’t worth chasing the carrot ever again. Yes, it’s sad knowing I’ll never have the love and care a child should have, but there are countless people in the same situation and throughout history. These people all survived and I’m willing to bet a lot of them thrived. It’s okay. And now people are starting to open up about it. Maybe, through discussion, toxic mothering can become just a sad history.

    • collectingjourneys September 4, 2012 at 8:11 am #

      TappMonkey you are awesome to post this! Writing your own history is good. No, it’s great. Thanks for posting!

  2. trophydaughter November 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    For years I maintained contact because I thought eventually, if I stuck with it long enough, it would be my turn. Eventually, my mom would have time for me. And as a person who feels loved WHEN people spend time with me, that meant eventually Mom would love me. About 5 years ago, I came to the realization that was never going to happen. I stopped taking the initiative to maintain the relationship and was immediately written out of the family and the will. The most difficult thing has been that aside from my sister and my oldest nephew, my mother controls all of the family relationships. My father and my nieces are no longer part of my life. It’s sad but we all make choices. And it is a relief to let go of that part of me that was always, always, always trying to please her and earn her affection. It was exhausting. Finally, I’m discovering who I really am.

    • collectingjourneys November 5, 2012 at 3:37 am #

      Congratulations! And thank you for posting here. Your post will help other women dealing with toxic mothers. Have you visited Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook or Youtube? Other resources for you – and a great place to share your hard-earned wisdom.

  3. Evelyn23 November 14, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    I found your site after trying upon trying to understand my mothers behaviour towards me. I’m 26 and finally moving out of my mothers house. It would have been much sooner but she constantly manipulated and used me. I realised at a young age she wasn’t a natural mother and constantly did my best to help her raise my little brother and sister. I’d cook, clean and look after my siblings and made sure I was always there for her when she started her business or needed someone to talk to. However her behaviour was so unpredictable and nasty but I would forgive her as I felt sorry for. When I had a boyfriend her behaviour towards me was so vile calling me slut/ whore etc. her abuse did destroy my self esteem but I was so good at putting on a front. I planned to leave next July to save for rent but as soon as I saw my boyfriend she text me with abuse. I’ve decided to leave before Christmas as I’m so sick and tired of being a servant. I have managed to gain my confidence as I now realise its not my fault. The only problem is I have young siblings that are still in her care. If it wasn’t for me they’d be living in a dirty house and locked indoors. I plan on severing ties with her but I can’t leave them there. The thing is if I leave them there my brother will be next and he’s not as strong as me. Any suggestions?

    I’m glad I’m not on my own on this subject.


    • collectingjourneys November 14, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Dear Evelyn,

      I’m so glad you found this site. Please check out Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook, too. You are not the only person that ever faced this problem. So many daughters of toxic mothers struggle to be good daughters and sisters. It’s just natural to want to help your family. Of course, you are concerned about your younger siblings and no doubt your TM will use them as pawns to keep you close. If she sees you doing well she may say you cannot contact your siblings – another power play to hurt you. May I suggest that you sit down with a piece of paper and make two columns: What will happen to my siblings if I stay & What will happen to my siblings if I go. Compare the lists and make a decision. What’s important here is being clear about what you are deciding here. It doesn’t sound like you are running away from problems. You sound like you’ve given this good thought and you’re not being super emotional about it (although I know it must be so hard to think of leaving). The best thing you can do is set an example of how an adult deals with difficult family members. You can leave your mother’s home and still stay connected to your siblings and support them by talking on the phone, making time for them for face-to-face time, encouraging them with school and other commitments. Your siblings will need to see that it’s possible to live without the mamma drama. If your side-by-side lists make you really afraid for your siblings, you might consider talking to their school counselors or arranging for them to have mentors at school or other support. They need to know that it’s not them, that it’s your mother who creates problems. They need a constant adult figure to look up to for strength. That’s what you can do for them as you start building an independent life. You will be in my thoughts. I’m proud of your for figuring this out at such a young age. Be Brave.

      • Evelyn23 November 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

        Thank you so much for your reply, I will sit down and construct two lists. I’ll find a way to contact my siblings when I leave, I just hope they won’t be turned against me and if they are they might understand why I left in the future.

        Many thanks,


  4. Rayne Wolfe November 15, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Put that list in an envelope, seal it and date it and keep it. You might want to show it to your siblings years from now. All you need to do is find a way to encourage them, whether its giving them a special token to remind them that you are always there for them, visiting them at school or sports, or sending cards. Face time is important. Where there’s a will there’s a way and they’ll remember that you showed up; that you cared about them. That will do more for their confidence than just about anything. Plan special outings even if it’s only going to the library or taking them out to Starbucks. They need to know they matter.

  5. Standingalone December 3, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Thank you! I will honestly say that this has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life to date.. But I have cut off communication with my mother which has resulted in my father as well. I had held out hope originally that my father would see the light and I actually was trying to help him by standing up to her and her manipulating ways. I thought that he would have the courage to stand up to her abuse towards himself. I was wrong, which quite honestly has been the hardest part because although he was not the abuser he was apart of it. I now see him as a wounded warrior and a co abuser. Since cutting off the contact with my mother it has been interesting to see the craziness with clearer eyes and an outside view. I have now had the opportunity to reflect on the insanity of my younger years and be proud that I have come out of the whirlwind of what was my life to create what I have managed to. With clear eyes I see that it was nothing short of a miracle that I have broke the cycle.

    Although I am proud and I am glad that I have cut off the communication and would not make another choice. There are still life events that make things hard. Example Family funerals etc. Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with these events? Especially in the admist of other family members. Does anyone have experiences that they could share? Recently at a family funeral my mother attacked me in front of family members. I don’t want to avoid everything especially honouring someone’s life. I feel then she continues to win, to abuse, to bully me. But…. I stress about what she will do and how to react in a calm manner and deal with it if it happens. What do you do? Not go? Go?

    • collectingjourneys December 3, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Thats a great question. I’m a big believer in studying your family, using tools like Ancestry.com. Understanding the stories of your parents and grandparents lives can be amazingly therapeutic. So, I say, always go to a funeral, because it may be the last time you’ll see some elders and have a chance to pick up stories and undocumented information like the reasons people got together or split up. So, what to do if it gets weird? I think you just have to remember your Invisible Crown of grace and good manners and treat the other person as you would treat a stranger acting similarly. If someone went off on me, I might move to a different seat. I might choose sit outside for a while or leave altogether. In some families there is one person who won’t put up with nonsense and I’d sit near that person, if possible. Funeral home operators have seen every form of drama and I might ask them if there is a place to sit that is out of the line of sight of others. The main thing is to show respect, so if it gets truly awful, probably the best thing would be to leave. Sad but true. I really like this question and I’m going to post it on the Toxic Mom Toolkit page on Facebook. Please check it out. It is a public forum, so be careful what you post. We also encourage visitors to create alter-identities to post more freely.

  6. Michelle F. - Portland, OR September 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    I am so happy I found Toxic Mom Toolkit! How cool it is that there are people out there who are actually going through the exact same thing with their mothers and can share and help each other! I’m all choked up 🙂

    Its hard to admit (especially to yourself) that the relationship you have with your mother is toxic. No daughter wants to believe that and its even harder to admit it out loud. But since coming to terms with it, I have felt nothing short of liberated!! I feel like I’ve been released from captivity….like I’m finally able to live my life on my terms…and it feels great!

    My story (in short version) is that growing up, there was so much drama going on in my home that I never noticed the neglect of my mother, to her only daughter of 6 kids.

    As a child, I thought her lack of concern for my needs as a girl was an oversight. But, looking back, there were so many red flags… but I continued to love and support my mother throughout my life, especially after she divorced my Dad (for reasons that’s just one of her many selfish secrets), because, well, she was my Mother and she always seemed so “needy”. NOW I know that was just part of her game.

    But while I spent the last 25 years outside of my own kids and relationships “helping her” with opening businesses that I never saw a reward from, and frankly took more from me than they ever gave, she was secretly defaming my character and reputation and everything I stood for behind my back, even alienating me from relationships with my brothers and other family. She stepped on a lot of toes in her life, but I got the worst of it. What confused me was….why? Any other mother would be happy to have a beautiful, intelligent daughter, but when it comes to me? My mother is a vindictive, deceitful, bitter, envious and dangerously jealous “school girl” who saw me as nothing but a threat to her all of my life.

    Well, in the last 2 years I’ve decided that I don’t have to put up with that (or her) anymore, and she’s finally starting to notice that I’ve been slowly severing ties. To save her the confusion, I’m going to tell her why real soon, (I’m excited about that), in a supervised setting because yes…jealousy is a very dangerous and harmful demon…even deadly.

    Do I care that my mother’s entire persona will be hurt? Do I care that all she thought she got away with was only hurting her? Do I care that she will cry about me to every family member and friend who’d listen? Did she think she would never get sick, weak or old?

    Yes, I care. But I care about me more. Its not selfish, its preservation, and that’s human nature. No matter how much I care about her or help her, she will always bite me like a serpent for it every time. And that’s a shame….. for her.

    Will I be there for her when she can no longer care for herself, knowing that I’ll probably be the only one in the position to? I’d have to say……..maybe. But not in my home.

    Just like the other reader, I’m breaking the cycle and starting my own new family traditions full of love, peace, truth and happiness….and sharing them with people who actually love and care about me.

    Side note: Next time you watch a TV show, notice how very rarely you see the family of the main characters around (mother/father, siblings, cousins, etc.) . They only drop in every few episodes or so and they don’t stay long. That’s because the main characters have their own identities and lives. I’m learning that and I like it.

    Thank you for this site! Love and God Bless to every Survivor!!


  7. Renea September 7, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    She has so much power over my siblings. As soon as a dispute happened I found my siblings were made to block me and never talk to me. I’m the eldest out of 5. One sister.
    And some how this is always my fault. And yes I thought she’d make a great grandmother and she is just as bad as a mother to me. Doesn’t ever ask call or reply when I take the time to update her on my child who she doesn’t care about. Why do I keep Trying

    • collectingjourneys September 7, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

      Might be time to “shop” for other elders. You could volunteer with your child at a senior center or get to know any older folks in your neighborhood?

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