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I Hate My Mother

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Peg Streep's book "Mean Mothers" really speaks to me -- because I can't stand my own mom. She didn't beat me or lock me in a closet. I just genuinely do not like her -- and people find this hard to accept.

two women

Guest blogger Gina: I am not close with my mother, and this is a concept that people are unable and unwilling to accept. They say things like, "Well, she's your mother, so you have to love her." I always think, you know there are jerks who have kids every day. And I'm sorry that it's uncomfortable, but every now and then you are going to run into the child of one of those jerks. It was always so difficult because it was so unacceptable for me to not like my mom. People (mostly adults) stuck up for her and -- by doing that -- made me seem like I was the crazy one. It was incredibly frustrating, and when you think about it, really stupid.

We asked momlogic contributor and psychotherapist Jill Spivack if it's okay to hate your mom. Here's what she said:

As the saying goes, we don't choose our family. We are all born into a set of circumstances where we don't necessarily have much control. We are born with a particular temperament, and our parents have both their own temperament as well as their own life experience which, combined, made them who they were to be as people as well as our parents. For some lucky kids, their parents can be nurturing, supportive, non-judgmental, loving limit-setters who are consistent and present in their lives. For others, parents can be less than perfect, and sometimes really abusive, abrasive, and disabling.

While there is no such thing as a "perfect parent," we are all hoping for a good enough parent. But unfortunately, for some, this isn't even impossible. Their own lives and experiences have often crippled them beyond a point of return where they cannot be the kind of parent we need. Do we need to empathize with their history? Maybe. There's some degree of "anger reduction" when we understand that maybe our parents' experience was as difficult for them as they were to us.

Should we continue to allow ourselves to be treated hurtfully or abused once we are adults? NO! It's very important for adult children of "not good enough" parents to come to terms with the cards they were dealt. If they feel that an ongoing relationship with that parent will cause them ongoing damage, they need to set boundaries with that parent.

If it is impossible to set enough boundaries or the parent is especially toxic, it is sometimes necessary to disengage completely. Before this, I would ask: Is there any way to remedy/repair the situation? Does their parent have the ability to take in their needs if well explained, or maybe with support from a counselor? Has the parent who made the mistakes been in therapy, or are they trying to change or repair what they've done wrong? You really need to know who you're dealing with and the extent to which that parent is "disabled." Just like you wouldn't ask a paraplegic person in a wheelchair to get up and walk over to you, you sometimes may not be able to get a very emotionally damaged parent to change and treat you the way they should have as a child. If your parent has disappointed you beyond repair, abused you emotionally or physically, you're lucky to realize as an adult that they treated you badly, and that you're going to learn to be a better parent to your own children.

Go see a therapist if you need guidance and support. Deal with your anger and disappointment and try to make conscious decisions about the way you'll be with your own children. Consciousness will save your children from experiencing a negative relationship with you. And for adult children of "not good enough parents," be sure to recognize when you're taking the pendulum too far in the opposite direction with your own kids. If your mother was, for example, emotionally neglectful, the natural tendency would be for you to overly coddle and overstimulate your own child for fear of her experiencing the same neglect you felt. However, if you aren't careful, you can overdo that nurturing stuff -- robbing your child of normal independence and competence.

What if one of your children's friends doesn't like his/her parents? Unfortunately, that child is still under their parents' care until he's 18 years old. I would empathize and listen to the child's feelings if they are trying to talk to you about it, but this is not territory you can necessarily get involved in, unless there is extreme emotional or physical abuse. Doctors and teachers are mandated to report abuse, so if you suspect something very serious, talk to the child's doctor or teacher anonymously and let them look into the situation.

next: Even the First Lady Doll Has Toned Arms!
38 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jacque October 16, 2009, 10:44 AM

Amen Sister!

Kristen October 16, 2009, 11:17 AM

Hate is a very strong word and you actually go on to say that you dislike your mother. I do not think there is anything wrong with disliking your mother(I dislike my own) but using such a strong word like HATE comes across as pretty awful. Unless you grew up with a mom who was addicted to crack or did actually lock you in the closet maybe you should just rephrase your statement.

Andrea October 16, 2009, 1:09 PM

too cannot stand my mother, she is absolutly out of her mind, and now that I am a grown woman and have children of my own, I realize all the things she did not do to let me love her. She never hugged me, kissed me, held me like a mother should, never taught me how to do girly things or told me she loved me, she was never the kind of mom that a little girl needs, to put make up on her or dress her up and play with her and I was the only girl in the family. I always thought maybe I was nuts, and thats how its supposed to be, but the older I got, the more I realized and seen all my friends mothers do the dress up thing and take thier daughters out to a girls day, teach them about make up and everything else. I had to learn everything on my own or have someone elses mother teach me. I was out of the house when i was 15 years old to get away from my mom and try to have somewhat of a mother figure through my best friends mom(wich by the way she is now with my dad and my step mom now lol). I do try to keep some contact with my mom because she is my mother, and for the sake of my kids to have somewhat of a grandma, but I keep that to the very miniumal, and I do not let my kids be alone with her and be subjected to what I was when I was little. Thank god she lives 2 hours away from me. The only good thing about it is that it did teach me how to be a good mother to my kids because I try my hardest not to have them feel towards me the way I feel towards her. I always felt bad for saying I hate my mom but now I feel better about (if thats how I should say it) I know im not alone!! sorry for the long post but this hit a soft spot lol =)

maeby October 16, 2009, 2:03 PM

completely agree. i hate my mother. she was an evil crazy woman.

Anonymous-missy October 16, 2009, 3:25 PM

My mother left my father, 1 year old sister and me (3 at the time) to run off with a man who was 20 years her senior. For many years, we would get calls a day or two after our birthday and occasional gifts in the mail from her, but otherwise had no contact. Then when we started school she finally came around and we had frequent visits with her. As adults now, and mothers, I think my sister and I struggle to maintain happy relationships with our mom. We don’t want to exclude her from our children’s lives, nor do I want to bear the burden of a lifetime grudge, but I definitely dislike what she did and cannot in ANY way understand someone who would run off and leave her children. I do see how parents mistakes can affect our own parenting styles and I struggle to not be too hands on with my son, though I am firmly entrenched as an attachment parent. Good post. Provocative.

Anonymous October 16, 2009, 3:35 PM

I too have the same feelings about my mother. Hate is such an awful word but honestly there were times I felt I did hate her(as most kids do). The child in me hates her for everything she wasn’t. The woman/mother in me makes me see all the little things she was. I’ve learned to let the past go and try to repair the future, sometimes it’s hard but remember one day you’ll be judged by your children for everything you weren’t. We’re all human and make mistakes.

Anonymous October 16, 2009, 4:02 PM

I agree with Anonymous, I have never hated my mother but question a lot of her choices when we were kids. As an adult and mother, I realize that we all make mistakes and truthfully we are all just trying to do the best we can with what we have. I tend to overindulge my kids to make up for what I feel I didn’t get (emotional and finically) that I sometimes think it works against me now that they are teenagers and seem to just expect everything from me with little respect or gratitude to me for it. Oh well, like I said we are all just doing the best we can and sometimes you’re damn if you do and damn if you don’t.

Niurka October 16, 2009, 4:02 PM

I could relate to her and I truly believe theres women out there who have personal issues with themeselves and take it out on their kids. Not all women are meant to be mothers.

Karen October 16, 2009, 7:27 PM

I also have a very stressful relationship with my mother. She is a pathological liar, had numerous affairs that she told me about (as a child), but told me if I told my Dad he would leave us, etc, etc.
I still see her nearly every day(I’m now 40 and married) and she is very much a part of my daughters life, but I am very honest with her and have definite boundries in place.
I also have friends who are horrified when I speak about my mother, but they haven’t lived my life!

ame i. October 16, 2009, 10:52 PM

Just because someone is able to reproduce does not mean they can or will be a good parent.
I’m lucky. I love the heck out of my parents. They were young when my brother and I came along, but I couldn’t have hand-picked better parents. They are wonderful grandparents, too.
My mom’s mother had issues. She didn’t put her children first, errors in judgement times 100. Maybe my mom did the exact opposite of what her mom did. I try to be as good a mother to my daughters as my mom has been for me.

Natalie October 17, 2009, 3:47 AM

I too severely dislike my mother. She has been so emotionally abusive to me my entire life that just this past week I had enough, and told her that I don’t want to see her anymore. She could not admit when she was wrong, she lied about things that she said to me, and she has no regard for my children (scaring them so much that they’re crying hysterically). She’s a very toxic individual, and I’m so much happier that I’m not around her anymore. One day my children will thank me even if they’re too young to understand now.

Yvonnes October 17, 2009, 9:54 AM

This is a very interesting blog, that I’m glad to be reading. When I was younger I believed my mother to be the best thing since sliced bread. However, as I grew up, and matured, it really seems as though my mother is envious of me, and my accomplishments. The hardest part of all of this was figuring out, and accepting the facts surrounding the matter. I’ll always love, and respect my mother. But, out of all the people in the world, it’s a little discomforting to know that you can’t trust the one who birthed you. Gratefully, God has taught me well to deal the hand I’ve been dealt; and how to be a better, genuine person at my own daily life roles.

Anon October 17, 2009, 11:03 AM

I read this - and these comments - and I”m sorry, I almost cried. I am not alone. My mom thought of me as only her prop, a reflection of who she was. She still does to this day. It’s hard for me to explain, I’m not even going to try…but now, as the mother of a daughter myself, I see that I would never treat my daughter the way she treated me. I love my daughter unconditionally, and only now do I realize that I never got that love myself.

Anonymous October 17, 2009, 9:25 PM

Do you have a reason for hating your mother? Idid not read so. You may not like your parents in some way but you can love that is if there really isnt a meaningful problem.

Anon October 18, 2009, 1:19 PM

I think for the naysayers here that they’re not understanding - there IS no love there, or very little, from the mother. But part of me is happy these naysayers are here. If they cannot comprehend not loving their mothers, not being close to them, then they probably got the love in childhood and beyond that I never got. And if so, I’m honestly happy for them, happy that they will never understand what the rest of us went through.

True Mom October 18, 2009, 5:53 PM

Oh boy…do I relate!!! I think a little part of me dies inside when I have to spend ANY time with my mother. She is a narsisistic, bully. I have never believed a word she said, and now as an adult,I can think back when I was completely lied to as a child. I see her repeating similar behaviour with our daughters, and she just doesnt understand why we don’t like her to spend time with them.

Messed Up Mom October 20, 2009, 2:11 PM

I had a great childhood. My mom was a good mom. It wasn’t till I had an abortion 9 years ago that I slowly started finding things wrong with her, blaming her for everything wrong in my life. I don’t know why but I do and now hate her. I have cut off all ties with me and my kids. I’ve told so many lies to myself and to others about her I don’t know how to turn it around. Now I’m the mom you guys are talking about.

Muldoon October 25, 2009, 12:14 PM

For those of you who can open the door to your mom, try again. [I understand there are some situations where the mom won’t open that door.] Ask her to go to mediation with you to make things better. You may be surprised that your thinking is not quite right and you might learn a thing or 2 about your mom. I know I did. As soon as my perspective changed, everything changed for the better.

adopted October 27, 2009, 1:45 PM

wow wow wow. I am so amazed at how much I relate to this and thought these problems were more cuz I’m adopted and not the daughter my adopted mother really wanted cuz she didn’t have me but I see it doesn’t matter as nobody who’s posted so far is adopted! I feel compelled to speak to “Natalie’s” post -my kids are 17 and 19 and while I did expose them to my mother for years, my daughter in particular, right now, wants to call her gramma but doesn’t want to “get bitched at”…..!!! My kids know how she treats me, they don’t like it, and she has treated them similarly - and actually, she treats my daughter almost identically how she treats me - maybe it’s a female thing? I don’t know…..but it does hurt a lot. As my kids got older I didn’t force them to visit her, I left it up to them and, as a result, they don’t have much contact with their gramma…she doesn’t realize she’s sabatoging, she blames ME! For everything…..such verbal abuse and mental abuse for as long as I can remember and I’m 42….toxic, Natalie, is a very appropriate description…..

Amy  December 8, 2009, 7:24 PM

I have read this story and I can relate… I find myself feeling so hurt and angry for having a parent-less life. I’m a recovering addict, which has been a journey to say the least. I have accepted that my mom did her best as I was growing up. I know that life for her was not that easy and I can sympathasize. However, now that I’m a mom myself, a recovering addict and a full-time college student… I find myself hating the fact that not only do I not have a mom to run to when the world feels too heavy.. but also how my daughter is being affected by my mother’s selfish life. I know this sounds harsh, but in all honesty, as a mom, it baffles me how a mother/grandmother could go about her day as if we (my daughter and I) don’t exist. I struggle even more now as an adult than I did as a child… and that pisses me off that I am still affected. I would love to know what it is like to have a healthy relationship with one of my parents.. but that was not in the hand I was dealt. I did extend myself to getting to know who my mother was as an adult and I continuelly got hurt so I had to cut that part out of my life… I still want that relationship that most people have with their parent(s) but I do not have that option. I guess that’s why I read articles like this… because their is a huge hole in my heart where a mother’s love fill it… How could any person with a heart or at least a soul turn away from someone they brought into this world? I look into my child’s eyes and I could not imagine turning my back on her… I brout her into this world… and now thatshe’s here, it’s up to me to protect her and guide her through life..not just up to the age of 18 and give her the boot. If anyone has any method that seems to work for this matter… please let me know what it is that You do and how… This time of year is always the hardest because of all the holidays that represent “family” and “unity” so I always seem to get more sensative and Angry! thank you all for listening to this… I thought I was actually the only person that struggles with a matter like this… everyone I seem to meet all have at least one person that is “Family” to them. So that’s relieving to know their is more like me out there but also heartbreaking at the same time as well!

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