11 Surprising Signs Your Mom Is Toxic — And What To Do About It

Share
Ad failed to load

By now you've probably heard that toxic people in your life can stress you out, and hold you back. Sometimes these toxic people can be friends, or even parents. In the case of parents, specifically moms, experts say issues like these are due to their own mother's shortcomings, or a mental health issue like borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder — both of which can create a toxic environment to grow up in. But sometimes, toxicity can be due to your mom's immaturity, more than anything else.

If your mom is immature, her childish tendencies have probably affected your relationship in a variety of ways. And, often it may seem like you're the more mature one. "Immature habits in a parent/child dynamic can lead to a toxic relationship ... called 'parentification' of the child," licensed marriage and family therapist, Racine R. Henry, PhD, tells Bustle. "It’s when children are expected to perform the physical/emotional/mental duties normally expected of a parent ... When the now adult child no longer wants to play the role of parent, conflict arises due to the parent’s unwillingness to change."

That's why, now that you're grown, you might notice that your mom continues to be immature in a way that's unhealthy for you, and for her. Here are a few toxic habits experts say may be a sign your mom is immature, as well as what you can do about it.

Ad failed to load

1Your Mom Wants To Be Your Best Friend

digitalskillet1/fotolia

Remember Amy Poehler's "cool mom" character in Mean Girls? That was a great example of a toxic, immature mom. And while it's obviously nice to have a loving mother who can also be your friend, this dynamic can create an unhealthy situation if it goes too far.

As author and stress management expert Debbie Mandel tells Bustle, "cool moms" tend to turn against their children the way a toxic friend might turn against you: by creating competition and doing whatever she can to erode your confidence.

If you constantly feel in competition with your mom — instead of loved and supported — this "cool mom" dynamic may be to blame. And the best thing you can do is put up boundaries and create distance, whenever possible.

2Every Convo Ends With You Feeling Guilty Or Upset

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Your parents should be your rock — people you can turn to when you're feeling down and out. But toxic moms really struggle with this concept, often turning every convo and problem around to make it about themselves. And, as a result, "every conversation you have with her ends with you feeling guilty, angry, or invisible," licensed psychologist Tanisha M. Ranger, PsyD, CSAT-S, CMAT-S tells Bustle. "Often times when we are dealing with toxic people, we can't put our finger on [what went wrong, but] conversations with them always seem to end with us feeling badly in some way."

This can be highly frustrating, as well as a sign it may be time to turn to other people in your life. As much as you'd like to call your mom, if she can't be there for you when you're in need — without making it all about herself — it may be healthier to talk with a therapist, best friend, or partner instead.

3You're Always The One Apologizing

maryviolet/fotolia

Nothing screams "immature" quite like an inability to apologize. So take note if you're the one who has to say sorry whenever anything goes wrong between you and your mother. And, remember that this is a trait common to all toxic folks. As Ranger says, "Toxic people, in general, have a lot of difficulty with taking responsibility and accepting the consequences of their own choices and behavior." Although difficult, if your mother cannot understand when you are asking for an apology, creating some distance after a disagreement may help cool things down.

Ad failed to load

4She Doesn't Support Your Relationship

Ashley Batz/Bustle

There's a big difference between a parent who disapproves of who you're dating, and one who's just trying to drive a wedge between you and your significant other. The latter is something many toxic moms do as their children get older and start dating, often because they can't stand when the spotlight isn't on them.

"She wants to make a wedge between you and your partner so she can be the victim," clinical psychologist Paul DePompo, PsyD, ABPP tells Bustle. "This is [due to] her insecurity and it makes it hard for her to be happy for you."

If your mom is attempting to undermine your relationship, the best thing you can do is leave her out of it, as much as possible. "Stop trying to convert her," DePompo says. "She is who she is and is not likely to change much. If it is going to lead to drama, keep her out of the conversation unless its something she will find out — in that case, be kind but assertive."

5She Can't Seem To Have A Reasonable Conversation

Hannah Burton/Bustle

It takes a pretty mature person to hold a reasonable, level-headed conversation — especially if things are getting heated. So take it as a sure sign of immaturity if your mom can't seem to keep her cool.

"Does your mother end disagreements over the phone by hanging up mid-convo? Does she avoid conversations about what she does wrong? When you try to tell her how she hurts your feelings, does she lash out or play the victim? An immature person often thinks they do no wrong and aren’t able to hear constructive criticism," Henry says. If this perfectly describes the dynamic you have with your mom, it may help to put up some boundaries.

6She Criticizes Your Every Move

JackF/Fotolia

Criticism seems to be a go-to for toxic parents. "It's the textbook scenario of a mother who picks apart every little thing about her adult child," Henry says. "If you find that you can’t do anything right, according to your mom, and you hear nothing but critiques this could be a sign of your mother struggling with her own maturity." While it may be difficult to do, ignoring scathing comments from your mother may be the best route, as well as seeking validation and advice elsewhere.

Ad failed to load

7She Tries To Manipulate You

Hannah Burton/Bustle

When you think of someone who's immature, you might think of a young kid who uses manipulation to get their way. And yet, this is a trait you might notice with your mom, too.

"If your parent uses crying or triggering your sympathy to get their way, this could be a sign of an immature parent," Henry says. "A parent should be able to communicate their needs and feelings without trying to manipulate you into bending to their will. This includes ignoring your phone calls to get you to visit them and ensure their safety or neglecting their own personal care." All of these actions create drama that you just don't need.

8She Lashes Out When She's Upset

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Everyone's entitled to a minor slip-up or two when they're truly upset. But that doesn't mean it's OK for your mom to lash out over the smallest thing, or to take her frustration out on you. So, if she lashes out, or calls you names when she's mad, it may be healthier to create some distance for a while.

As therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle, "A mother's role is to provide unconditional love, safety, and support." If you aren't getting that, it may be a sign of a toxic relationship, and one that needs to drastically improve before you can continue to be a part of it.

9She Wants You To Fix Her Problems

Zdenka Darula/fotolia

If your mom needs help with a personal problem, that's certainly OK. It's only toxic when she starts to lean on you for everything — year after year — and blames you when things don't go her way.

If this sounds familiar, there is something you can do about it. Learning about boundaries and how to set them is a great place to start, Crystal Clancy, MA, LMFT, owner of Iris Reproductive Mental Health, tells Bustle. That, and learning how to not take her behavior personally. "[You need] to know that it is not [your] fault that [your] mom is like this," she says. "[You do not] have to continue to put up with the behavior."

Even though it can be difficult, a truly toxic situation may mean it's a good idea to go "no contact" with your mom — at least until she learns healthier ways to deal with her emotions.

Ad failed to load

10She Wants To Control You And Your Siblings

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If you have siblings, take it as a sign if your mom tries to get between you and control the way you communicate. "[Toxic moms often] want to control the flow of information and turn siblings against each other so she will never be left out and so [you] will be disturbed enough to still need her," DePompo says. "She [might] spread negative things that one siblings says to the other and she will complain about one sibling to another so your support toward her will turn away the sibling alliance."

If this seems to be the case, it'll be important that you don't give in, or fall into her trap. "You have to allow her to be mad or disappointed and practice dealing with it," he says. "She will be cold next conversation but [you should] act as if all is OK. She will move on, especially when you make future plans with her."

11She's Never Excited For Your Successes

Ashley Batz/Bustle

While it's understandable that your parents might struggle with the idea that you're growing up — and no longer requiring their 24/7 help — that doesn't mean it's OK for them to hold you back from success. And yet, that's exactly the way an immature mom might handle the situation. As DePompo says, "She does not want you to be successful without her because it means you don't need her."

Regardless of why your mom is behaving in a toxic way — perhaps due to unresolved issues, a personality disorder, or immaturity — toxicity is toxicity. So, even though it may be tough, do what you need to do to establish boundaries and work on yourself, and hopefully your mom will follow suit.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

Bustle's Editors On Ice Dancing + Rihanna

For those of you who had a holiday on President's Day, welcome to the start of the work week! And for everyone who worked yesterday, you're one day closer to the weekend, woo! Today's been a fairly chill day so far — we've got more on the Winter Olym…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper