14 Steps to Deal and Cope with a Toxic Mother

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I feel like I encounter the word “toxic” every other day; toxic partner, toxic friendship, but we can all agree the subject attracts lots of attention when the toxic person in question is someone important in your life – like your own mother.

So how do you deal with a toxic mother?

Well, in this article, I will give you 14 steps on how to deal with a toxic mother. 

But first, let’s start with a simple definition.

What is a “Toxic” Person?

A toxic person adds negative feelings and upsets one’s life. Usually, a toxic person is dealing with his or her own issues, so he or she acts in a manner that doesn’t showcase him or her in an ideal outlook.

Now that you know what it means to be toxic, let’s continue to discuss a toxic mother and how to deal with her. The tips discussed aren’t about controlling your mother, but controlling how you deal with her.

You can’t change someone else, and while we might not always be in a position to change a toxic situation, we can always change how we respond to the situation and that’s why I’m here, to give you the weapons you will need when dealing with a toxic mother.

The pain that comes from dealing with a toxic parent can cause permanent damage if not dealt with right.

A mother is supposed to love, nurture, protect and take care of her children but when she does the opposite, the kind of pain that comes with such betrayal; impacts negatively the mental state of a person. 

So let’s talk the step-by-step process for dealing with a toxic mother.

Step #1. Understand That It’s Okay to Walk Away

This is one of the hardest decisions you can make. Nip the evil right in the bud. Having to walk away from your mother is not an easy task but sometimes very necessary. The saying goes you can’t expect to heal in the same environment that made you sick, and that’s true. 

You can’t deal with past aching when receiving a new dose of hurting every day; the pain will keep piling, so you should make the conscious decision to leave the toxic environment. As harsh and as sad as it is to do that, your mother may be too damaged for repair.

In a quest to try and save her, you might end up drowning yourself too. Sometimes it’s okay to cut our losses and move on. This doesn’t make you the bad person, it just means that you love yourself enough to realize when a situation is way past the point of saving.

Step #2. It’s Okay to Try and Make It Work

Some people believe in second chances and others believe a third time is a charm. What I’m trying to say in so many fancy words is that it’s okay to want to give it another shot. I believe that people can change, it doesn’t happen too often but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. 

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People can change, it doesn’t happen too often but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

If you’re not ready to give up on the relationship with your mother, that’s okay it takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage to walk away and when you’re ready you will.

It's okay to try again so that when you do finally walk away, you will know you did all that you could, but it’s also important to know that you can only try for so long. 

There needs to be a balance. You can only try for so long before you lose yourself and the fact that you’re reading this tells it all.

Step #3. Be Honest and Real with Yourself

If you choose to stay with your mother then you must be honest with yourself. Be realistic with your expectations, by contemplating the facts. If it's love and kindness or approval you’re after, it may not come, and if it does it might be as a form of manipulation. 

Take note of her real behavior and accept it for what it is. This makes it easier to know when you’re being manipulated. It also acts as your shield by making you accept when you don’t receive what you were hoping for or when she turns to be mean or hurtful towards you.

Step #4. Reduce the Time You Spend with Her 

Putting a limit on the time you spend around your mother might be helpful.

Whether it’s on phone or physically seeing each other; spending time away from her might help relieve some burdens of having to interact with her while still allowing you to have a relationship with her.

Remember familiarity breeds contempt, so a little distance works like a charm! In addition to giving you some form of peace, it will also give you time to decide and strategize on how you would like to handle the relationship going forward.

You will have an insight into how life is with her in it and with her not in it.

Step #5. Be Careful of Old Patterns

It is very easy to fall into old patterns. Many times people with a history of a toxic background end up being drawn to people with similar temperaments as their toxic parents.

The need for what was denied to you as a child by your parent might be so strong that you look for someone with characteristics such as your mom’s just to attempt and get that which was denied to you as a child. 

This leads to you falling back into the old cycle because, just as your mother was incapable of offering you that love and affection, so will this other person because in some way she is similar to her. This leads to a cycle where you’re drawn to a toxic person, and you get an unhappy ending all the time.

This shows it is very important that you deal with any unresolved trauma or hurt from the past of dealing with a toxic mother in order to heal, so you can nurture healthy relationships that don’t involve cycles of your past.

Step #6. See a Therapist

Dealing with pain and unhappiness from a toxic mother may not always be an easy road and that is why I’d recommend seeing a therapist.

A therapist will provide you a safe environment to unload all the pain and unhappiness you feel without fear of being judged and feeling that you have to hide any information. 

Besides, a therapist will recommend coping mechanisms and will offer advice that will help you be relieved of all the pain from the past and step you on a journey to wellness

Step #7. Establish Boundaries

In dealing with a toxic mother it may be necessary to set some boundaries. In your quest for love or approval from your mother, you may end up being codependent. For example, you might do some crazy things to your detriment just to win her approval. 

Therefore, to prevent her from exploiting you with her toxic behavior, it may be necessary to set up some healthy boundaries to help you deal with her toxicity.

If you have been growing with her ever since you were young it may be hard to detach yourself from her because she’s all you have ever known, and you don’t know how to exist without her. 

It is necessary and healthy that you plan your schedule away from her. This would also allow you to spend some time away from her. This independence will also act as a process of recovery.

Step #8. Maintain Respect

When dealing with your mother you must maintain respect throughout the whole conversation and even argument– if it happens to occur.

There is nothing that stirs the pot like being disrespectful to a parent. Being level-headed when dealing with such a situation prevents it from escalating and keeps confrontation to a minimum. 

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When dealing with your mother you must maintain respect throughout the whole conversation.

It is also important to note that at the end of the day she is still your mother, and you know what they say about disrespecting your parents. You might not see eye to eye but this does not warrant disrespect, you can put your foot forward and remain respectful.

Step #9. Confidence Is Paramount

When dealing with a toxic person, expect to be intimidated by their harsh words and loud tones, which may be aimed at drawing you into a fight or to try and make you feel inferior. It is important to believe in yourself and also stick up for yourself. 

Don’t let their harsh words get the better of you. Remember they’re doing and saying all the harsh things just to get the better of you. Learn how to say no in confidence if you don’t want to do what your mother is asking you to do or if she says something you don’t agree with. 

Step #10. Work on Your Self Love

Own your right to love and respect from other people, including close family like your mother. When you love yourself, you set the standards and conditions for whom you let and don’t let in your life. 

You also set the requirements that those you let in your life have to adhere to before they can gain entry into your life.

The same way you love and respect others should be the same way others should love and respect you, and if anyone does not meet the set conditions then it’s okay to shut the door on their faces and not feel bad about it and this includes your mother.

Step #11. Identify Your Toxic Behaviors

Many are times when we are quick to point at the speck in our brother’s eye and forget the log in ours.

You may have experienced toxic behavior first hand, you have seen what it looks like and the potential damage it could pose. Having lived through it, it is possible to have picked up some of these behaviors.

Develop some mechanisms to help you cope with the situation. It is of critical value that you carry out a self-evaluation to ensure you are free from toxicity yourself, and if you suffer from either then decide to seek help.

Ensure you did not pick up any habits from the previous toxic encounters. Most toxic behaviors are a result of a toxic legacy, which is carrying forward toxic behavior from a previous toxic home environment to a new home. 

Step #12. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

It may have been drilled in you that you are a loser because of a few mistakes that you committed here and there. You need to unlearn this notion. It’s human to make mistakes; no human hasn’t made mistakes. 

If we were to follow this notion then that would mean the world is filled with losers which is simply not true. We learn from losing, we grow from losing; there would simply be no winning without losing. 

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Making mistakes does not mean that you’re not worthy, it does not mean that you don’t uphold a value. It simply means that you’re trying to achieve perfection just as you’re.

So give yourself permission to grow, give yourself permission to hit-and-miss, celebrate the hit, grow through the misses, unleash your full potential to the world, and don’t listen to a mother who did not let you grow and learn.

Step #13. Be Willing to Unlearn

It is very easy to get sucked into the Abyss of past beliefs and old patterns. It is time to unlearn all those habits and beliefs that you had grown to accept as the truth. If possible make a list of all those old beliefs that you would like to unlearn and turn all those negatives into positives. 

If possible turn them into a mantra. For example, if you believed that you are not worthy, turn that into ‘I am worthy.' Where you previously believed that you are not enough, turn that into ‘I am enough’. Where you believed you are not loved, start singing that you are loved. 

Breaking out of old habits is not easy, but it can be done, and it only takes a while with discipline included for an action to turn into a habit. Get into the habit of affirming all the negatives into positives.

If you can find a penalty or fine for each time you find yourself having bad thoughts this will help keep you in check.

Step #14. Carry out a Self Evaluation

To be successful in self-evaluation, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Why are you still in that toxic environment? Why haven’t you left this space that makes you so miserable? 

In every situation, there is the good and bad, the ying and yang. They coexist; there can never be one without the other. For example, your toxic mother has her bad days but not all of them are bad. There are days when she says she loves you or tells you that you are good enough, or she is just good to you.

You live for these days, and you stay because your mother is sick and old and has no one else to stay with her.

Do a self-evaluation and look at it critically; are you more miserable staying than you are leaving?

If you decide to leave then just leave, and if you choose to stay even though you’re miserable then do it with all the courage and strength you can master. 

Whatever you choose to do, do it because you made a conscious decision to, not because you have to.

Final Thoughts on How to Deal with a Toxic Mother

The relationship between you and your mom has been based on her terms. It’s time for you to take back your power and determine where the relationship is headed and the terms of the relationship from there henceforth.

That you came looking for this article may be an indication that you might be dealing with a toxic mother. Navigating a toxic relationship can be hectic, draining, stressful and tiresome.

Hopefully, this article provided an insight on how you can deal with a toxic mother to try and help you in your situation as well. 

And if you're looking for more resources, check out these blog posts:

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