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According to author Elizabeth Stone, a child is a mother’s heart walking around outside her body. There can be nothing worse than when that little piece of your heart starts to turn against you. How do you handle it when your daughter blames you for everything?
Learning how to handle daughters who blame their mothers for everything is a challenge that all mothers must face. Accusations and blame get thrown about carelessly, and eventually the relationship between mother and daughter is torn down to die in the ruins of emotional conflict.
You probably wish you knew what set your (teenage or all grown up) little ponies and pigtails darling off that has made her suddenly hate you? You raised her with love and care, but now she’s kicking all that love back in your teeth.
Whether she’s a teenager or an adult, when this stage of conflict is reached, it may seem like an impossible chasm between you two. Now what?
I can’t tell you what to do, but I can share my own experience with my daughter and my exhaustive research into handling parent-child conflict and what finally worked for us. May it also work for you and your daughter and heal wounds as you regrow closer together.
What Is Blame?
Blame is a difficult concept to fully understand. You may know that it means to hold someone responsible for some perceived error or fault (whether that fault or error is real or not).
The problem with blame is that it’s not always even the person who perpetrated the error or mistake that we hold responsible. We just feel left behind and abandoned and look for someone to blame.
Often, we assign blame to the wrong parties, but once we’ve decided they are to blame, it’s very hard to reason the mistaken logic from our minds. Children, given that they lack world experience and haven’t yet fully developed their abstract reasoning faculties, may be more susceptible to falsely assigning blame (usually to their parents, but especially to their mother).
Our feelings about a situation can create further complications, and we assign blame without having any logical facts to support the negative feeling. So, your child hates you—her mother—because she is angry, and in an infantile twist, she holds you responsible for her happiness (and so, you failed in her eyes).
Therefore, she blames you without you having done anything wrong—simply because you didn’t soothe her when she felt upset.
When your kid transfers the negative emotion about the situation to you, she ends up blaming you for things that you aren’t responsible for.
Sounds quite logical, right? I’m sure you also blamed your mother at some stage in your life (even if you’ve forgotten or feel too ashamed to admit it). This messy emotional confusion is exactly what is happening to your daughter.
Feeling angry, resentful, and negative, your daughter (whether tween, teenager, or adult) can suddenly begin to blame you for everything she’s not ready to deal with.
Blame as a Displaced Emotion
So blame is an act of emotional substitution. Your daughter, being unable to process her feelings since she doesn’t have the self-awareness to fully process her thoughts and feelings, transfers her self-blame to you.
Consciously, she knows you didn’t do anything wrong and you don’t deserve her wrath.
Subconsciously, her brain decided that someone needed to be blamed for how she felt. You are closest to her, so she blames you. Daughters turn their mothers into sin-eaters, (subconsciously) expecting their mothers to carry the load of their unhappiness.
What does this mean to you as a mother with a blameful daughter? She doesn’t hate you. She hates herself for situations and feelings she can’t yet process and deal with. You become her scapegoat. She can’t fight the world, so she fights you instead.
What Could Her Blame Actually Be a Sign of?
Your daughter’s constant blaming you could actually be a sign of her own self-loathing and a deep inner hatred. She lashes out without thinking, feels guilty, but then also feels angry—so it’s a double whammy for you as the mother: anger, guilt, and then anger again (and she blames you for all of it).
Consider that your daughter’s anger could actually be a sign of:
When she feels sad, but has never been shown how to grieve, she may opt for the default emotion, which is anger. People tend to revert to anger when they don’t understand a feeling.
Shame is a complex emotion that is both sorrow and anger rolled into one messy feeling. The result could be that your daughter is ashamed, but she doesn’t know what it is, so she gets angry instead, blaming others (you) for how messed up she’s feeling.
We are taught from a young age not to be jealous, but we’re never shown how to not be jealous. We know it’s a negative feeling, but it’s also a very human one. Your daughter may be jealous of you as her mother because she feels worthless and can’t fill your shoes.
Ever seen how an animal that’s alone tends to snap at everyone and everything around them? That’s because loneliness and fear go hand in hand. If your daughter feels lonely and isolated, she will look to you for the support that she subconsciously needed but lacked.
Angered that she feels she never got the love and guidance she needed, she lashes out at you, her mother (the nurturing figure).
We are often pushed by our parents to be the best we can be. When we fall short, we may begin to hate ourselves. This hatred soon turns to resentment of the person who pushed us – usually, that’s our mother.
Did you push your daughter to succeed? (Any good mother would.) Chances are that she feels she let you down. In a weird way, it makes subconscious sense to her to rather push you away with blame than let you feel disappointed in her for letting you down.
Teenagers often suffer from depression. Finding your place in society and in your family can be emotionally draining. Depression can be the result. When you are depressed, you feel so badly about yourself that you push away anyone who seems to care about you.
Your daughter may be pushing you away and “blaming” you for everything because she can’t face shouldering her own blame.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable to low self-esteem and quickly lose their confidence. They get bullied at school, and the result is that they feel like they’re at the bottom of the pecking order. Daughters may start to pick on the next authority figure in line—you. Blaming you for everything is how she is trying to assert herself.
Self-respect can make or break you. If your daughter is low on self-respect, she may resent you for what she feels about herself. She may be overweight, not pretty enough according to society’s standards, or speak with a lisp (or, or, or), and therefore, she blames you for making her this way.
If your daughter has any or all of the above reasons for blaming you, it may also be that she is blaming you due to an imagined regret—yours. Your daughter may believe that since she’s such a failure or waste of air, you regret having her.
Any comments or suggestions to try and help her plays right into this disillusioned view. Whatever you do, she will believe you regret having her, and she’ll blame you for this.
6 Steps to Handle a Daughter Who Blames Her Mother for Everything
Handling a daughter who blames her mother for everything can be a real heartbreaking challenge. She’s your daughter, part of your heart and soul, but she acts like you are the devil. Now what?
Here are a few steps to find some middle ground and bring sanity back to this insane situation.
1. Understand Her Motives
Finding out why your daughter is blaming you is step one in the recovery and healing process. You need to really and objectively try to see her and see her world. Consider her daily interactions, the people she moves around with, the pressures on her and her relationship with you until now.
When you do this, don’t cling to the idealistic view of her when she was three years old and sitting on your knee. See her how she was (imperfect but kind) before she began the blame game.
Now consider why she may possibly be acting this way. Keep your emotions out of the reasoning process and don’t spend energy on senseless reasoning like “But I’ve always done everything for her; I can’t understand why she’s suddenly so mean to me.”
2. Keep a Journal
Understanding her motives won’t be a quick Saturday afternoon chore. It’s something that will take time, and it will evolve the more you think about her. Use a journal to write down when things happen.
Each time she shouts at you and blames you, try to record what happened before, what was said, and what her reactions were.
The more information you gather, the better. Try to keep your emotions out of it. Focus on what you can read off her. She is giving you signs of what’s happening in her world, and it’s time you see them.
3. Know She Doesn’t Mean It When She’s Mean
Emotions cloud our logical thinking, and we say and do things we really don’t mean when we’re upset. Your daughter will say things that will hurt you deeply.
Try to keep in your mind that she’s not being herself. Those arrows from the tongue that will rip into your soul don’t come with actual intent to hurt you.
In her anger, she’s being hurtful by blaming you. Know that she doesn’t hate you (even if she says so), she doesn’t blame you (her emotions are confused), and she still loves you (nothing can change that).
4. Practice Understanding and Support
Your daughter doesn’t need you to fix her, so stop trying. She doesn’t need advice, so stop giving it. And she doesn’t need to be preached to, so quit the habit (pardon the pun).
Instead, it’s time to close your lips and listen. It’s time you simply hear her, feel her words, and see her actions. She feels misunderstood, so try your best to understand her and care deeply.
5. Model Healthy Emotion Sharing
Young women often don't know how to deal with emotions, since this isn’t always modeled for them. Daytime TV and soap operas are filled with scenarios of how not to share your emotions.
Instead, be an example (without explaining in words) to her of how to share emotions in a healthy and safe way.
When you are feeling tired, you can gently admit to her that you’re feeling tired and ask her what she thinks would be a good self-care activity. You can ask her to join you, but this isn’t a requirement.
She is hating herself and blaming herself. Model how to love yourself, how to forgive yourself, and how to let go of negativity. So, instead of this, show her that:
6. If All Else Fails
If you have tried everything and the situation has become so volatile and filled with confrontation that you fear your daughter may engage in self-harm or even harm you, it’s time to call in the cavalry. Therapy can be a huge change-maker in your mother-daughter relationship.
It could be that you are too close to the fire to help your daughter, no matter how badly you want to. So make the ultimate sacrifice and accept you can’t help her, but perhaps a therapist can.
Some therapists will work with your daughter in a solo session, while others will work with you both, or there might even be a combination of the two. The important thing is to give it time and never give up.
Final Thoughts on Daughters Who Blame Their Mothers for Everything
Do you have a daughter who blames you for everything? It hurts! There is nothing worse than feeling like a complete failure because the person who grew in your body for nine months, and in your heart for a lifetime, has turned against you.
All hope is not lost. You can rebuild the bridge of love and trust that has fallen. It takes time, patience, and understanding. You can’t control her emotions, but you can control yours. So open your heart to your daughter and be kind even if she is unkind, be caring even if she seems to hate, and love unconditionally no matter the pain.
For more information on how to quickly calm yourself, read our article on 5-minute mindfulness activities and keep your heart free from turmoil so you can commit 100% to your daughter. She’s counting on you… whether you realize it or not.