Toxic Mother Daughter Relationships: Can You Identify These 8 Dysfunctional Patterns?

toxic mother daughter relationships

Our mothers are supposed to play the role of the primary source of care and comfort. Girl children especially identify more with their mothers and look up to them as their role models. While some of us luck out on this department, others end up with toxic mother daughter relationships. 

For a girl child, the bonding with her mother is the crux of her personality development and she will tend to form and evaluate all her future adult relationships based on the barometer of the mother-daughter relationship she had during her formative years. Research indicates that the influence of a mother is quite strong when it comes to the mental health of a daughter.

What Are Toxic Mother Daughter Relationships?

Unhealthy mother daughter relationships essentially are not favorable for the growth and development of the daughter’s emotional and physical health. In dysfunctional parent-child relationships, the daughter does not feel safe or comforted in the presence of her mother. She cannot depend on the mother for guidance, advice, or the fulfillment of her basic needs. In toxic mother daughter relationships, the daughter does not feel nurtured by the mother.

Let’s Look At Some Of The Signs Of Toxic Mother Daughter Relationships.

Although all mothers may exhibit one or more of the following characteristics once or twice in her lifetime, a toxic mother will continuously show two or more of the following traits:

  • Blaming or guilt-tripping
  • Invalidating daughter’s emotions or lack of empathy towards the daughter’s needs
  • Criticism that is not constructive
  • Exploitation
  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Ignoring boundaries
  • Passive aggression
  • Controlling
  • Humiliation

What Causes Toxic Mother Daughter Relationships?

There are several views on what contributes to toxic mother daughter relationships. Personality traits and changing hormones are often blamed by mothers and daughters who find themselves entangled in such dysfunctional relationships. However, a more scientific approach tells us that socio-cultural and cross-generational influences, including gender bias, patriarchy, sexism, etc., lead to unrealized life goals in women. Women who are not satisfied with their lives tend to sow the seeds of self-loathing and resentment in their daughters.

Related: Why Your Narcissistic Mother Hates Your Body

What Are The Different Types Of Toxic Mother Daughter Relationships?

It is imperative to know and identify the toxic patterns of an unhealthy mother daughter relationship, in order to cope with the situation better. The following dysfunctional tendencies are commonly found to dominate toxic mother-daughter relationships:

1. Enmeshed

In this type of relationship, the mother forges an all-consuming bond with her daughter. They both share everything with each other and there’s no healthy boundary between the two. While this may seem like a happy relationship, once the girl grows up and demands her personal space, problems start brewing up. The mother refuses to withhold her grip on her daughter’s life and continues to interfere in the latter’s personal choices. Daughters seldom get disciplined by such mothers while growing up. The negative effects of maternal enmeshment have also been established by researchers.

2. Narcissistically Controlling

A narcissistic mother sees her daughter as nothing more than an extension of her. She sets unrealistic expectations and punishes her daughter when she fails to meet them. Such toxic mothers perceive their daughter’s every achievement and failure as a reflection on her. She is severely critical of her daughter and instills poor self-esteem in the daughter’s mind. According to research, narcissistic parenting wreaks havoc on the well-being of a child.

3. Rivalry

This is when a mother sees her daughter as a rival. She feels threatened by the daughter’s looks or achievements and may try to sabotage her life. She often draws parallels between her and her daughter’s life decisions and feels inadequate compared to the daughter. Daughters in such toxic mother daughter relationships, grow up feeling guilty or ashamed about their accomplishments, and this damages their sense of self.

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Rose Burke

Hi everyone! I am a wandering soul trying to find my way in this matrix. I am into literature, movies, psychology, occult, tarot, mysticism, and all that jazz. I am an ambivert, love traveling and making new friends, yet very selective about who gets access into my energy bubble. Love pets, foods, rainy days, ghost stories, chocolate, and cancelled plans. Live and let live is my motto.View Author posts