PREVIOUS: Harmful Mothers (#1)
BOOK: “The Emotionally Absent Mother” ~ Jasmin Lee Cori
NOTE: All 5 maternal styles effect both sons & daughters, but each of these mothers will treat their male & female children with differing degrees of ‘favoritism’ & abuse. ALSO – your mother may be some combo of these 5.
5 types FROM: Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers. Read rest of article for suggestions of how to deal with each type.
Harmful MOTHERS (cont)
Normally, parents want to see their children prosper & be happy. Instead,
a child’s success & pleasure arouses hostility in the envious mother. Glowing with good news, a son or daughter expects a parent’s face to reflect admiration. What they see instead is a frozen jaw, the corners of her mouth pulled down in contempt. ‘Who do you think you are? Someday you’ll realize you’re not as good as you think you are,’ she warns.
OR she may at first act pleasant, but later the child notices that she;s irritated by ordinary things they do ‘Stop making such a racket / Do you have to go on and on about it? / When are you going to do the dishes?’….
• Instead of bolstering the child’s confidence & inspiring a sense of potential, an envious parent begrudges her child’s independence & appropriate self-pride. She thinks: “How dare she get all the attention! / No one is allowed to outshine me! / My — is better than his” OR: Why does he have a chance to succeed when I’m always disappointed? / Look at what I’ve had to give up! / How can she be happy when I’m not…..”
Parental envy will show up even stronger when a child hits adolescence & starts to make their own way in the world. She (unconsciously) believes she’ll only feel secure & connected to her child if it’s self-worth is as low as hers. So, instead of feeling pride & delight in their child blossoming, the envious mother feels something is being taken away from her.
These children learn that the good things in their lives somehow offend, even harm, the person who matters most to them, and who they long to please. As adults they will spend years of trying to please her & other like her – in vain, making it hard to enjoy their achievements – OR give up altogether!
Sites: “Mothers Who Are Jealous of Their Daughters”
“On being the daughter of a Jealous Mother”
This mother is almost totally focus on the external – how things look – to others. Internally, she isn’t capable of the empathy so necessary & important to a healthy parent-child relationship. She craves attention & adoration because of her own low self-worth, which is usually well hidden – even from family members. In her self-focused mind, children are only a reflection of her, so have to be outstanding / perfect in absolutely every way – to make her look good. Any time the child needs attention, just for themselves & for any reason, this mother experiences it as competition, which is unacceptable to her.
If a child says they’re tired, mom will snap back: ‘Don’t talk to me about feeling tired. I’ve been hard at work all day. You don’t know what being really tired is’. If the child says “Look what I did / learned in school today!” She might say “That’s not so great. You could have done that better. I already know that” …. These children are in a double bind:
— constantly pressure to be totally subservient to the mother’s ego, AND
— also expected to shine for their accomplishments.
So no matter how hard they try to please her, they live under a black cloud of disdain & disapproval. The constant anxiety is that their relationship with her could break apart at any minute, whenever she’s inadvertently offended – which is inevitable. It’s a bewildering & volatile situation.
Narcissists have fragile relationships with others as well, since their overblown ‘ego’ causes them to take offense at the smallest imagined slight, so they will suddenly cut people out of their lives or punish them in some way for being ‘insulting’.
Sites: The Narcissistic Mother /6 Faces of Maternal Narcissism
DEALING with hateful or neglectful parents, now
Many ACoAs are so symbiotically bonded to their unloving / harmful parents that it hard for us to let go – even if we’ve moved a million miles away. When they get old, sick or have some other difficulties, we often feel the need to step in & ‘help’ them. Often times this is just another form of rescuing & people-pleasing. We all accept that there is an enduring bond between parent and child. BUT interactions with our earliest abusers (if they’re still drunk, cruel, self-centered, verbally abusive, manipulative….) can re-traumatize us, whether we’ve been away from them for a while, OR if we’re still around them – continuing to add pain to our already wounded souls, making healing that much harder & longer.
WARNING: Unfortunately there are some people in our adult lives – having no understanding of how traumatic & pointless reconnecting with the family is – who will urge us to “make up with them before it’s too ate / they’re the only parents you have / of course they love you even if they don’t know how to show it / just take the high road, they don’t mean anything by it….”
While these people may think they’re well-intentioned, their insistence that YOU do something which is unsafe for you, is actually:
— a projection of who they are & what they will do or have done
— their garden-variety narcissism, not even imagining that their way would harm you, much less that it’s not what you want! DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM.
NOTE: Many ACoAs say they stay in contact &/or help out their abusers because they are / want to be ‘a good person’. In our specific circumstances (not some TV-show ideal) this idea actually means being good to the perpetrator instead of oneself.
ALSO: There is confusing belief that if we’re ‘well enough’ their craziness won’t bother us AT ALL. This is 1/2 true & 1/2 false.
TRUE: As our wounds heal, many of the buttons they installed will shrink, but not all. So we’ll be less reactive to & definitely less hurt by many of their ploys. We might be able to just say “Ohhh, mooom!”, or “Sure dad.”
FALSE: The healthier we get the less we will be able or want to tolerate their addictions, abuse & unavailability. We will stay away more often, & not get caught up in their games.
“Dear Prudence” columnist Emily Yoffe writes:
There is no formula for defining one’s obligations to the parents who didn’t fulfill their own. The stories of famous people with abusive parents reveal some possible responses.
Abraham Lincoln couldn’t stand his brutish father, Thomas, who hated Abraham’s books & sent him out as a kind of indentured servant. As an adult, Lincoln did occasionally bail out his father financially. But during his father’s final illness, Lincoln ignored letters telling him the end was near. Finally, he wrote not to his father, but his stepbrother to explain his absence: “Say to him that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant.” Lincoln didn’t attend his father’s funeral.
Warren Buffett remained distantly dutiful to his mother, who had subjected her children to endless, rabid verbal attacks. On the occasions he visited her at the end of her life, he was a “wreck” of anxiety, sitting silently while his female companions made conversation. He was 66 when she died at 92. His tears at her death were not because he was sad or because he missed her, he said in his biography, The Snowball. “It was because of the waste.”
Bruce Springsteen’s frustrated, depressive father took out much of his rage on his son. In a New Yorker profile, David Remnick writes that long after Springsteen’s family had left his unhappy childhood home, he would obsessively drive by the old house. A therapist said to him, “Something went wrong, and you keep going back to see if you can fix it or somehow make it right.” Springsteen finally came to accept he couldn’t. When he became successful he did give his parents the money to buy their dream house. But he says of this seeming reconciliation, “Of course, all the deeper things go unsaid, that it all could have been a little different.” (MORE…. both pages 1 & 2)
NEXT: 33 things I’ve learned…..