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If your mom’s behavior made you comb the internet for toxic mother signs, then the situation must be dire. The truth of the matter is, a toxic person can make your life a lot more stressful, whether it's your mother or not.
You may love your mother dearly, but can no longer tolerate her harmful behaviors. I have a toxic mom myself, so I've got a relatively good idea of how you feel.
Here, you'll find out what it means to be a toxic person and what makes them that way. We will also address how they impact your well-being. Ultimately, knowing the signs of a toxic mom is a good starting point to finding ways to cope… whether that involves talking things through or cutting her off.
While there may still be hope to salvage the relationship, distancing yourself might seem like a more attractive option. The decision usually hinges on the level of toxicity, your tolerance level and the overall effects of her behavior on your health.
What Is a Toxic Person?
A “toxic person” is described as anyone who regularly behaves in a way that makes being around them distressing. The individual typically possesses core traits that easily trigger tension or conflict at home, at work, and in their relationships.
People wind up feeling hurt, emotionally exhausted, or other negative emotions from interacting with them. The toxic behaviors can be obvious or subtle, as seen in different types of narcissists.
The Dangers of a Toxic Person in Your Life
I don’t think anyone likes being around people who leave them feeling angry, confused or worthless… and that’s exactly how some toxic individuals make you feel. Truth be told, I’m allergic to these individuals and stay far, far away from them.
At the same time, it’s okay to empathize as you come to understand their motivations. Their behaviors are sometimes a reflection of how they’re coping with stress or psychological trauma.
Other deeply rooted causes include low self-esteem and mental health disorders, e.g., borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder. They themselves may not recognize the effects of their actions on loved ones.
For example, if they lack self-awareness, emotional intelligence or empathy – it could be difficult for them to feel how you feel.
This is why I usually stress the need for empathy towards them. After coming across tips on how to deal with a toxic mother, I realized that showing empathy could help change how my mom relates to me.
Should I Cut my Toxic Mom Off?
It doesn’t have to be a do-or-die solution. After all, it’s your mother and there are less drastic ways to manage your relationship. Hopefully, she raised you and sacrificed to give you the best life she could.
That, to me, is grounds for trying to make it work. My toxic mother abandoned me at a young age, yet I forgive her and still try to maintain a civil relationship.
Even though you’re grown, it’s natural to expect your mom to be there for you and treat you with respect. She might even agree to change once you explain how her behavior is affecting you.
Sometimes, though, cutting ties or going no contact is an appropriate solution for ending the constant drama. Agreeably, it’s a tough call, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to protect yourself.
15 Toxic Mother Signs to Know
A toxic mom can raise hell and woe unto you if you’re in the line of fire. You might not be able to put a finger on why you dislike the way your mom deals with you. Typically, this is because the signs your mom is toxic relate more to how you feel around her.
She’ll likely do or say things that make you feel distressed, inferior, anxious, depressed, guilty, ashamed, or unworthy.
Below are actions by your mom that might evoke negative emotions, alter your behavior towards her and adversely affect how you feel about yourself.
1. She loves to judge and criticize you
As the closest primary caregivers, moms have a duty to nurture their children and provide a safe environment for them to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally.
An overly critical mom will bash you for the smallest mistake and make you doubt your ability to do anything right.
She’ll criticize practically everything you do instead of offering praise or making you feel that it’s okay to make mistakes. You’re left feeling ashamed or like you’re always falling short of her expectations.
2. She talks down to you
Your mom needs to recognize that you’re now an adult and should be treated as one. Talking down to you, or being condescending, has a way of making you feel “small” and inferior.
For example, she may have a habit of explaining things in fine detail, as if to say you’re not smart enough to understand.
Some monster moms use a tone of frustration and disgust intended to assert power and parental control and belittle you in one swipe. Strange enough, people talk snobbishly to others to make themselves feel better.
3. She’s manipulative
According to Choosing Therapy, “Manipulation is a hallmark trait of a toxic parent.” Manipulation refers to the use of tactics to get someone to think, act or feel a certain way.
It’s also one of the strategies used by narcissists to get their selfish needs met. Your mom may shower you with compliments, love, or gifts to get her way.
In addition, she might make unreasonable demands and make you feel guilty for looking after your needs ahead of hers. She may say something like, “If you love me, you’ll do this for me.” Guilt-tripping is a tactic used to get her needs met.
If you deny her, expect her to hurl criticisms at you or tell you that you owe her many favors for raising you.
4. She shuts you up
When it comes to a toxic mom, you simply don’t have a say. Not only does she overtake practically every conversation, but she also doesn’t listen to you or allow you to respond. There’s no way to have a healthy relationship with your mom if she insists on keeping you muzzled.
Communication has to be two-way to allow all parties to say what they think or feel. It’s not fair that you have to shut up just because she says so. Yes, she’s your mother, but you’re an adult and deserve the same respect she demands.
5. She’s self-centered
It’s all about “me, me, me” for your maternal parent. No one else matters, so long as she’s getting her wants and needs met and her opinions heard. That’s precisely how self-absorbed people act. Your mom will seek as much attention as she can get from you and others to feel important.
You’re forced to listen to her vent about her problems and provide solutions. Try getting her to return the favor and she’ll tell you she’s busy at the moment. Healthy relationships involve a fair give and take. You should no longer put up with your selfish parent and should call out the behavior.
6. She gaslights you
Do you feel like you’re crazy when talking with your mother? She might be gaslighting you. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that effectively instills self-doubt about a particular matter.
She’ll lie, deny, and deflect to keep you off kilter. After a while, you might begin to question your own sanity. Your dear mother probably says things like, “I never said that” or “I think you have a problem with your eyesight.” Lying and denying makes you question your senses.
7. She’s abusive
Physical and emotional abuse can occur within a parent-child relationship and can be as psychologically damaging as physical or sexual abuse. If you experienced these as a child, your mom might continue the emotional abuse as a way to control and dominate you in adulthood.
Signs of emotional abuse include constant criticism, threats, rejection, talking down to you, and emotional neglect. If you struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem, those symptoms might link back to the abuse.
8. She doesn’t respect your boundaries
It doesn’t occur to your toxic mother that she needs to respect your decisions and privacy. You’re an adult. Somewhere in her head, she convinces herself that having the title “Mother” gives her the unfettered right to go through your phone and other personal belongings.
She oversteps your boundaries by asking intrusive questions about your personal life. Quite frankly, that’s none of her business. The reason she’s doing all this immature stuff is to maintain control over you. You can’t help but feel violated.
9. She makes you feel awful about your decisions
One of the biggest responsibilities of adulting is having to make decisions on your own. There’s a sense of independence and a feeling of satisfaction whenever those decisions lead to success.
In comes your toxic mother criticizing you for taking that job, buying that car, or dating that person. “That’s a dead-end job.” “That car doesn’t suit you.” “Can’t you date anyone else but her?” Whether she knocks your decisions out of jealousy or a lack of parental support, you wind up losing confidence in your ability to make sound decisions.
10. She tries to live her life through you
As seen with narcissistic parenting, your mom may attempt to use you as a pathway to achieve her goals and desires. While it’s common for parents to do this, it’s unfair for your mom to control your academic, career, or relationship choices to try and correct her failures.
Your mom may think she’s looking out for your best interest, unaware that she’s actually seeking to fulfill her personal desires. Let your mom know that you feel confident in choosing your own life path and capable of handling the challenges without interference.
11. She’s co-dependent
Parental co-dependency refers to a parent’s excessive reliance on their child to provide physical, financial, or emotional support. In other words, you become her caregiver in the dysfunctional dynamic that’s created.
She might say things to make you feel obligated to devote your life to her, e.g., “I took care of you all your life. Why won’t you help me?” Eventually, distress, anxiety, depression, or resentment set in from having to forego your responsibilities and needs to please her.
12. The silent treatment is her weapon of control
The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive method of communicating dissatisfaction, anger, and other ill feelings toward you. Put simply, she shuts down, withdraws, and ignores you to get even or punish you. The manipulative tactic is similar to “stonewalling” and often used by covert narcissists.
During the ‘silent’ period, she doesn’t initiate conversations or respond to your needs. Not only is her attitude dismissive, but she’s also engaging in psychological abuse, which is damaging to your self-esteem.
13. She publicly humiliates you
Of all the toxic mother signs, this one might be the worst. It’s bad enough that the matriarch of your family criticizes, demeans, and ostracizes you to get the upper hand.
Bringing her toxic behavior into the public realm or on social media is taking things to another level. Chances are she had a habit of dissing you in public or in front of your friends as a child.
The humiliation and disrespect hurt to the core as she shouts or argues loudly with you in public. As resilient as I am, I would feel diminished. There’s no reason you should put up with this.
14. She doesn’t celebrate your success
Some moms dote over their child’s every achievement. You can see how their eyes light up telling others about it. Not your toxic mom. Due to envy and jealousy towards you, she can’t bring herself to say, “Congratulations! Well done!”
If she’s a narcissist, your success will inflict narcissistic injury, since narcissists are competitive and hate when others succeed. Your achievements will only mean something to her if she gets the credit or can share the limelight.
15. It feels like you’re “walking on eggshells” around her
All in all, dealing with your toxic mom causes you to be on your Ps and Qs. You always have to watch what you say or do, hoping not to offend or upset her. You’re usually afraid to start a conversation or ask her opinion; owing to her unstable moods and fearing she might respond in a negative way.
An ingrained sense of fear around her might be the reason you experience stress and anxiety in her company or avoid her at all costs.
Final Thoughts on Toxic Mother Signs
It is safe to say that you are dealing with a toxic mother, provided she displays one or more of the signs of a toxic mom outlined here. Yes, as much as you might be livid over your mom’s treatment of you, try not to take it personally. Remember she might be projecting her ill feelings towards herself onto you.
In the final analysis, what matters most is finding ways to cope. While there’s a chance to work it out through healthy discussions or family therapy, some parent-child relationships become almost impossible to repair… a choice which can only be made by you.
The important thing is to not feel shame for whichever way you decide to deal with the situation… your mental well-being must come first if you want to engage in healthy relationships of your own. Ready to start your healing journey? I think you’ll appreciate 25 Toxic Family Quotes to Heal & Let Go of Your Pain.