5 HARMFUL MOTHERS (Part 1)

MOM WHY DID I HAVE TO
end up with a mother like that???

PREVIOUS:

 4 Parenting Styles (Part 5)

SITE: 4 kinds of Angry Moms

BOOKs:Difficult Mothers: Understanding & Overcoming Their Power” ~ Terri Apter (Comments)
The Emotionally Absent Mother” ~ Jasmin Lee Cori

 

These classic Abandoning / Abusive parenting styles leave big scars. If you were raised by a mother who was mainly one of these types OR some combination, it’s important to recognize where we got our dysfunctional reactions from – as a way to minimize or eliminate our Self-Hate.  (from Daily Mail Reporter, U.K. 6/2012)

NOTE: Each of these types are variations of Narcissism – when it’s a severe & life-long pattern (Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers).  Read rest of article for suggestions of how to deal with each type.

1 . ANGRY
Although no child likes it when a parent is angry, an occasional outburst angry momdoes not create problems between them. What does cause harm is when a parent repeatedly uses anger to attack, shut up & control family members. When anger is always in the air, children live in a constant state of high alert, waiting for emotional explosions.

• As well as being psychologically damaging, this type of long-term stress is also toxic to the young brain. Flooding it with endless anxiety limits the formation of the mental circuitry needed to regulate emotional states.
Sad irony: these are the kids who most need to learn self-soothing & control their reaction – but are the least well equipped to do so

Continuing into adulthood, many such people say they still panic when around their angry mother, having grown up always feeling ‘wrong’. They’re most likely to become appeasers, programmed to please & placate others.
Sites: “My Mom Is Always Angry” / “My history of anger, 1-3″

2. CONTROLLING
This mother will try to run of every part of their child’s life, even to the extent of telling the child what to see, feel, think & want.controlling mom

Healthy parents use control to shape general values & set specific rules – but always temper it with careful listening, & respect of the growing child’s ability to have their own personality & their ability to make age-appropriate decisions for themselves.

Instead, day-by-day, a controlling mother says, acts & implies: “I know who you are & you don’t / I need you to be X, which is more important than what you want / I know you don’t like it my way but I don’t care…..”’  She sees herself as custodian & shaper of her child’s mind.
Having been told repeatedly that mother knows best, these children learn to completely distrust their own wants, needs and opinions. Even simple independent decisions can fill them with anxiety. They also learn to lie – to say whatever the controlling mother wants to hear, just to keep her off their back
SITEs: Signs you may have controlling parents’ +
The Psychological Effect of a Controlling Parent

3. EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE
Sometimes the result of depression or chemical addiction, but most often because of narcissism, a mother’s emotional unavailability can be incredibly painful for a child, & leads to all kinds of upset & confusion.
This long-term emotional withholding effects the physical & chemical make-up of a child’s brain. neglectful momGrowing up, such children see their role as comforter & protector, instead of being comforted & protected.

They’ll feel guilty for feeling happy, cling to the parent, avoid emotions or throw tantrums, & often take on heavy responsibility to make up for mother’s ‘absence’.

As adults, ordinary emotions such as joy & sadness may seem extreme, self-indulgent, even dangerous to these people. They may also have deep-seated beliefs about their role in close relationships – that other people’s needs are more important than their own, always have to be mature and ‘grown up’, & can’t trust anyone to be there for them.

Healthy parents provide ‘Affective sharing’ (emotional exchanges between mother & baby), which increases brain growth & cortisol receptors that absorb and buffer stress hormones, as well as generating those crucial systems that help us manage our own emotions, organize our thoughts & plan our lives. Nurturing physical contact builds the brain’s ability bounce back from disappointment & failure.

NEXT: Harmful mothers #2

ABUSE of CHILDREN (Part 2)

I NEED SOMEONE TO PROTECT ME
but there’s no one around to do that!

SITE : How to Deal With Being Rejected by Your Parent

READ: ACAs ACOAs ACODF Blog, re. the effects of childhood abuse on the brain

 

ABUSE STYLES (cont)

INCONSISTENCY (Extreme &/or Persistent)
DEF: Parents not having a stable, dependable character, nor rational standard of behavior, such as rules that are not consistent with actions. It includes changing things frequently so daily life is not predictable.

a. Deliberate: (good) Intentional inconsistency shows that a specific exception “proves the rule” by letting kids know in advance when something in their routine is different –  because of a special circumstance (illness, returning from vacation, moving, a recent emotional stressor….).
While they don’t have to do something usual this time (chores, homework, practice, church….), things will go back to normal shortly.
Intentional exceptions reinforce normal expectations

A consistent parent gives the child a gift of knowing what to expect – as much as possible – which makes their world safe.

b. Accidental:(bad) when parents are too tired, too busy or have forgotten to follow up on a plan, supervise children’s chores or keep a promise…. It sets a bad example by giving kids the message that promises don’t count & rules aren’t hard & fast, so they have ‘permission’ to ignore them too.  This undermines normal expectations

c. Dysfunctional: (terrible) This type is caused by the parent having unpredictable mood swings & outrageous or shameful behaviors – that are never explained & often irrational – which are not related to an obvious circumstance that can be understood or predicted.

This includes alcohol / drug abuse, mental illness, illegal activities…. It leaves kids never knowing what to expect next, what is expected of them or when they’ll be abused for doing something ‘normal’ (just walking past the parent – sometimes the child is ignored, sometimes hit, sometimes cursed out or threatened….) “Sometimes they yell when I’m playing & sometimes they give me toys to play with”

📌 Parental inconsistencies include:
• unstable emotional states (one time a parent says they love/ need you…. the next they can’t be bothered or can’t stand you -‘come here, go away’).
• terrorizing child by yelling or raging – alternating with periods of self-centered, needy attention / fake warmth
• changing house rules – confusing demands & expectations of the child
• unpredictable, extreme & dangerous responses to child’s behaviors
• not keeping promises – which they never meant to keep anyway or given while drunk / in a blackout so they don’t remember what they said
• being hypocritical in their own actions (kid punished for lying but parent lies all the time….)

▶︎ Dysfunctional unpredictability creates anxiety in children, with a lack of trust in the adults – not knowing the right way to function & live in the world. Without stable rules to base choices on, it’s hard for children to trust their own judgment & decision-making, having internalized chaos & uncertainly. This affects all areas of learning & hamper or destroy normal social interactions, creating social phobias, isolation, no risk-taking…
💔
CORRUPTING
DEF:  To morally contaminate, to ruin utterly in character or quality, change the original form of, destroy or subvert the integrity of…
✶ From the Canadian Criminal Code:  (S.C. 1953-54, c. 51, s. 157)
“In the home of a child, everyone who participates in sexual immortality, or indulges in habitual drunkenness or any other form of vice – thereby endangering the morals of the child, or renders the home an unfit place for the child to be in – is guilty of an indictable offense & is liable to imprisonment for two years.”

Children will grow up unfit for normal, healthy social interaction – when parents model for, teach or force children to engage in antisocial behavior harmful to themselves & others, such as:
• ignore or reward child for substance abuse
• supply child with any form of illegal substance
• reinforce inappropriate sexual activity; force or promote prostitution
• reward child for bullying and harassing behavior
• teach “Win at all costs”; encourage violence in sporting activities
• encourage & reward child for lying, cheating and stealing
• encourage or allow criminal activities
• teach hatred, racism, ethnic or religious bias

NEXT: Abuse of Children (Part 3)

“They Did the BEST They Could” (Part 1)

they did the best... 

YES, I WAS HURT BY MY FAMILY,
but they were hurting too, poor things!

PREVIOUS: Results of abuse – #2

REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.

 

1. GENERAL
This is a commonly used phrase – in & out of Program – mainly in the service of the speaker’s denial!
You may at first think this post is harsh or unfair, BUT please remember that everything our parents were  – WE internalized into our Negative Introject.
As long as we deny how harmful their actions were toward us – we will continue doing the same to ourselves, mistreat others AND let others mistreat us in many of the same ways! ( Self-hate’).

How is this phrase usually meant? That that no matter how cruelly, crazily…. our family may everything's OK ??have continually acted, to each other & us, even to this day – it was the ‘best’ they could manage.
It implies that they :
• used all possible resources to cope
• could NOT have done any better
• meant well, even if they didn’t show it
• really tried, in spite of falling short
• didn’t have any other options ….

In most of our families NONE of these are true – OR if true in part, it was a very small part – not enough to help us as kids!

2. DENIAL
a. THEM: This phrase is usually said by adults, about their parents – but only by people who had painful childhoods! You won’t hear a happy, well-adjusted person needing to even think this, much less say it!

The BEST they could? If our parents were verbally cold, controlling, cruel & insensitive, narcissistic, neglectful, not comforting, drunk, demanding, abusive, addicts, raging….  That was the BEST they could DO? Really?

NO. The most we could say is that they:
did what was done to them. Yes, but most never bothered to change. One mother, when confronted, kept saying – “But there weren’t any books about this stuff when you were little”! Except the daughter knew mom never bothered with anything deep, ever. She only read ‘Readers Digest” & watched soap operas! AND, there were some books, & people she could have asked to help. But she ‘was never wrong’!
did what any addict would (not just alcohol, but also food, shopping, raging, gambling, exercise, TV, sports, religion….) – everything possible to not deal with their responsibilities & emotions

chose the ‘easiest way out’,  just didn’t care enough to bother, or were self-righteous about their parenting style (“Spare the rod, spoil the child”) – anything to not take to look at themselves & the effect they had on their children & others

refused to get whatever help that was available to them at the time (AA & NO to helpAl-Anon have been around for over 50 yrs, psychologists even longer).  One mother admitted she wouldn’t be caught dead going to a therapist. Another was begged repeatedly by her daughter to go to Al-anon, but always blatantly refused

were neglectful – some of us had a parent with a genuine mental illness – but others in the family denied the problem & did little or nothing to seek out solutions that were possible at the time, if not for the sick adult, then at least for us kids
EXP: More than one CoA was left alone for years to deal with a drunk, suicidal or psychotic parent

b. US: On the surface, when ACoAs say this phrase we mean the ‘General’ qualities listed above (from denial).  Under that, we’re really saying that we :
• can’t afford, emotionally & mentally, to admit how badly we were treated
• still believe we caused or deserved the terrible things they did / didn’t do
• “understand” why they acted that way, intellectually – so we don’t have to FEEL the hurt, sadness, frustration, rage, disappointment….

—–> And here’s the kicker:  we’re saying that – since “they did the best they could” – we can’t possibly be angry at them! Saying that we forgive them is actually our way of exonerating them. – not holding them accountable.

OK, so what’s wrong with that? Yes, it is the ultimate goal of mental health to let go of our anger, detach with love – or indifference, to forgive, outgrow our need for them… BUT…… (cont. in #2)

NEXT: “They did the best they could” (Part 2)