Toxic mother: Why do ties sometimes have to be cut off?

“Allowing yourself to be the main subject of your own thoughts and actions allows you to grow”, explains Anne Laure Buffet, therapist and author of the book. Mothers who hurt (Eyrolles edition ). To be able to say to yourself: “I want, I want, I decide, I want…”, is to blossom in your adult life. However, some mothers prevent this important step in the development of their child, who, despite the passing of the years, cannot suppress this intrusive question: “What will my mother think about this ?”.

When the mother-child relationship creates too much discomfort for the child who has become an adult and prevents him from living his life, cutting ties is sometimes the only solution.

The toxicity of the mother as the source of this decision

When an adult decides to cut ties with his mother, it is usually because of a lack of stability in the foundations of the mother-child relationship. This weakness is sometimes due to the mother’s toxic behavior towards her child. What characterizes a toxic mother, explains Anne Laure Buffet, is “her attitude, her behavior, her personality and the way she interacts with her child.” Instead of helping him grow up peacefully, “it harms his mental and behavioral development by preventing him from being autonomous and empowered”.

  • If the adult grew up with a possessive, controlling and omnipresent mother:

As a child, he is not considered an individual in his own right but by what he brings or should bring to the mother. His judgment of him continues when the child becomes an adult. The mother presents herself as “possessed of knowledge and refuses any questioning.” For example, it forbids any secret garden because anything that does not conform to the specified plot is judged as a sin. This toxic behavior makes the person “unable to establish an emotional and loving relationship with anyone in his adult life, because he remains attached to his mother as if his life depends on it here”. In this situation, the mother’s presence ends up being oppressive, which can push the adult, who wants to break free and live his own life, to cut ties.

The omnipresence of the mother can also be an intrusive behavior that she justifies through “overflowing love”, as indicated by Brigitte Allain-Dupré, psychoanalyst and author of the book Healing from his mother (Eyrolles edition). For example, the mother interferes in the professional, private, friendly, romantic and sometimes intimate life of her child.

  • If the adult grew up with an abusive mother

“Until I turned 40, I was afraid of my mother, her judgment, her words and her mood swings. She was both bipolar and perversely narcissistic to me,” says Nathalie, 52. his mother’s behavior forced him to leave the family nest at the age of 20 and completely break the parental relationship after more than twenty years, noticing that despite the years and distance his mother has not changed. He recalled: “After another event where my mother was disgusting against me on a social network, I decided to stop everything. She tried to reach me twice, playing on my heartstrings but when I didn’t answer, her true face came out.

“This maternal toxicity, says Anne-Laure Buffet, can result in the desire to harm or hurt through physical and/or psychological abuse.” When this violence is expressed physically, it can go through slaps, blows, blows (the law prohibits and punishes physical violence against children since July 10, 2019). When it is psychological and affective, violence involves permanent criticism, humiliation, abusive comments or even insults. This behavior can be explained by the envy and jealous nature of the mother. A woman is more likely to belittle her child, especially if it is a girl, if she is jealous of his physical assets or his success.

  • If the adult grew up with a failed mother:

In such a situation, the child often grows up “too quickly” and does not know an honest and peaceful time because he sees himself too young to be ruled by his siblings, or the role of the messenger between the parents It also happens that he must receive confidences from his mother, on an affective, romantic and sometimes sexual level. The mother-child relationship is reversed, explains Brigitte Allain-Dupré: “The mother creates the child she trusts, the one to whom she fulfills her parental responsibilities and her duties. She cannot play the role of a mother because she is taking care of her own child”.

  • If the adult grew up with a cold mother:

When the mother is not emotional enough and is always cold to her child, the latter is likely to suffer from an emotional deficit and have insecurities such as the fear of abandonment.

This toxic behavior may be due to the “lack of ‘positive maternal madness’ at the birth of the child”, says Brigitte Allain-Dupré, which means that a mother wonders about her baby and the his devotion to it. understand it.

Upon the birth of their child, some women do not feel these emotions and find it difficult to create a bond. The psychoanalyst remembers the story of a patient: “He told me that as soon as his daughter came out of his womb, he knew that he could not be with him because the little child was not like his eyes. other daughters. This woman went through a difficult time professionally and wanted a child to compensate for her struggles at work. After this false start, she struggled to breastfeed and developed a toxic relationship with her daughter woman

When did you realize your mother was toxic and you had to leave?

Deciding to cut ties with his mother took time and was not a sudden click. Awareness begins in a subtle way. “As a child, we are equipped to receive kindness and tenderness, so we don’t really realize that our mother is toxic, says psychoanalyst Brigitte Allain-Dupré. However, even as a child, you can feel a certain discomfort in the relationship you have with your mother and provoke it by rebelling”.

Faced with a rebellious child, the mother will understand that this behavior is in fact a search for her love. If the mother cannot read her child’s suffering, she becomes even more cruel and toxic.

Adolescence is a powerful period in which the child may feel anxious in his relationship with his mother. The psychoanalyst says: “The adolescent feels it when he finds it difficult to go home, when he prefers the family of his friends or that he locks himself into a romantic relationship to create a comfort zone.”

But it also happens that a person opens his eyes to the relationship with his mother later in life. However, it is usually in adulthood that emotional detachment occurs. According to Brigitte Allain-Dupré, “there is a natural dimension to the feeling of discomfort, then one day, an event happens and it triggers anxiety, sadness, or anger. It is best to listen to that voice that says ‘save your skin’ and left.”


Anne Laure Buffet, therapist and book author Hurt mothers (Eyrolles edition)

Brigitte Allain-Dupré, psychoanalyst and book author Healing from his mother (Eyrolles edition)


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