Why Does My Mother Hate Me?

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated June 22, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Kelly Kampf, LCSW

In popular culture and the media, the caring and loving mother’s image seems to be plastered everywhere. We see the shining examples of women who give up everything to show their love to their children. However, for many people, this idealized image of a superhero mom doesn’t match up with their own experiences. Whether they experienced neglect, abuse, or general toxicity in their relationship with their mother, many people often ask, “Why does my mother hate me?”

Here, we’ll explore some of the factors that contribute to a mother-child relationship, and we’ll look at where so many of them go wrong. If you think your mother hates you, or you’re just trying to figure out why it’s so hard to spend time with your mom, then this article is for you!

Before You Were Born

Family Relationships Can Be Complicated
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When you were still in your mother’s womb, there was a whole host of factors contributing to your future relationship with your mom. Even before you were born, your mom’s hormones and family history were already playing a role in the mother-child relationship.

During pregnancy, mothers experience considerable spikes in the amount of estrogen and progesterone. In addition to signaling her body to nourish and support the unborn baby, these increased hormones affect her mood and outlook. This extreme change in her hormones is what we have to thank for the “grumpy pregnant woman” stereotype since it often leads to mood swings. If a woman has never experienced this kind of seismic hormonal shift and the issues that follow it, she may feel scared or angry. If she doesn’t have the tools or understanding to process these negative feelings healthily, it’s not uncommon for the mother to direct these negative feelings towards her baby. So, the hormones and pregnancy experience can contribute to a mother’s disdain for her child.

Another factor to consider is your mother’s relationship with her own mother. Many women express feeling unprepared or scared when it comes to mothering simply because they had a toxic or strained relationship with their own mothers. Or, your mother may think that because she grew up with an unhealthy mother and daughter dynamic, all of her behavior and feelings towards you are normal. Without proper examples of realistic and healthy mother and child relationships, your mom might not understand how much she is actually hurting you.

When it comes to your mother’s pregnancy or her relationship with her own mom, there’s very little that you can do to change. After all, these factors sprang up before you were even born! It’s important to remember that you can’t blame yourself for any misplaced negative emotions that your mom might feel because of things that happened before you were even born.

When You Were A Baby

Anyone who has raised a child can tell you that it isn’t easy! Not only is there a little child to keep healthy, but there are also a thousand different voices trying to impact the way that the child is raised. For many women, especially those who may have already been suffering from pre-existing mental health issues before they had a child, raising a child is the most stressful and anxiety-inducing experience of their life. At every step of the way, some new stressors and traumas only add to the strain of their relationship with their child or children.

The birth of a child is the first trauma that a mother experiences in her child’s life. Whether she delivers vaginally or has a C-section, the process of birthing the child is fraught with trauma. If a mother doesn’t have the capacity to process all of this trauma healthily, she may start to attribute the stress of that trauma to the child. Thus, the baby becomes the target of the negative feelings that she associates with the trauma of giving birth. This can also exacerbate existing mental health issues that the mother might already be facing.

Often before the birth shock has even worn off, the new mother is presented with the stress of nourishing the newborn. Many voices and stressors surround the best practices for nourishing a newborn, and no matter how the mother chooses to feed her baby, she’s sure to face some acute stress and trauma. If a baby doesn’t latch or suckle immediately, the mother often feels insecure and insufficient, thinking, “I have one job that I’m supposedly built and equipped to do, but I can’t do it.” Many women direct this frustration towards the baby; that’s not very uncommon, and because of it, sometimes the mother hates herself. While those feelings often fade with time, some women exhibit longer-lasting signs of this resentment, which can grow to domestic violence issues if not dealt with early on with the home family.

This trauma can either be exacerbated or anticipated with each birth for women who have more than one child. So, the mother’s reaction will become either stronger or more regulated each time she experiences pregnancy and childbirth. For this reason, your “place” in the birth order can sometimes determine how good or bad your relationship with your mother is.

In short, the first year of having and raising a baby can be filled with traumas and frustrations. When a mother isn’t equipped or willing to deal with these negative emotions healthily, she can often attribute these negative feelings to her child or even blame the child and harbor resentment.

In Your Childhood and Adolescence

As the child grows, the mother’s job doesn’t get much easier. If you’re asking, “Why does my mother hate me?” you probably have more than one experience in your childhood and adolescence that prompts the question. Here, let’s explore some factors that might lead to the “my mother hates me” conclusion.

Many women often report feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by their children. In many cases, this situation is exacerbated by the mother’s circumstances, such as money problems, raising a child or children alone, or a lack of support from her own family and community. Plus, she has to balance the many roles of the mother that she feels pressure to fill. However, if a woman refuses to look outside the frustrating instances and instead focuses on the adverse outcomes of certain parenting experiences, she may direct these harsh feelings to her child.

As the child gains more autonomy, the mother plays a shrinking role in directing a child’s behavior. This means that as children grow up and make their own decisions, the mother has less and less of a direct say in what these decisions are. In some cases, the adolescent – or even adult – children make decisions that harm themselves or others. When this is the case, the mother can resent the child’s bad decision-making, especially if she had to live with the negative consequences of her child’s actions. In families with more than one child, especially where one child’s bad behavior affects the well-being of the other child or children, mothers often tend to direct anger and disdain towards the poor decision-maker. They may see this child as a threat to their family, and they will often act angrily or defensively towards this child.

So, as children grow and become more independent, their decisions and behavior directly contribute to the mother and child relationship. The older the child, the more responsible they are for the dynamics of their relationship with their mother.

Signs Of An Unhealthy Mother-Child Relationship

Before you jump to conclusions and completely write off your relationship with your mom, consider some of these indicators of an unhealthy mother and child relationship. You should also honestly consider if you exhibit any of these traits and how you can take steps to improve your behavior in light of any such realization.

  • Dismissing Negative Feelings: Instead of listening to negative feelings and empathizing, a toxic relationship will bury negative feelings. In these cases, the child often grows up to have difficulty expressing their feelings.
  • Feeling Responsible for Her Happiness: Your mother may have led you to believe that her ability to be happy depends entirely on you. This may have led you to give up other pursuits in an attempt to fill this void for her, but that only sparked some resentment on your side.
  • Lack of Healthy Boundaries: Your mom is always in your business; you might describe it as “being nosey.” She uses this closeness to exploit your emotions and manipulate your decisions and behavior.
  • She Always Wants the Spotlight: You might feel that everything she does for you is just an act like she’s only doing it for recognition or attention. This can make it hard to feel that your own efforts or opinions are worth much at all.
  • Plain Old Cruelty: She may meet your every word with harsh criticism or make you feel generally unworthy. She takes out her anger and frustrations from other areas of her life out on you, without considering or caring if she hurts you. This cruelty can manifest on a physical or emotional level.
  • You Feel Defenseless: She never has a positive thing to say, and you feel that your options are fight flight or freeze. That is, most of your conversations end with either an explosive argument, the silent treatment, or feeling stuck and unsure.

If you recognize any or all of these traits in your relationship with your mom, you may be experiencing a toxic mother and child dynamic. However, that doesn’t mean that the relationship has to be that way forever. There are several ways to move forward and try to improve the relationship.

What To Do To Improve The Relationship

Family Relationships Can Be Complicated

The first step in improving your relationship with your mother is recognizing that she is a person, just like you, with her own history and struggles. You should stop asking, “Why does my mother hate me?” and instead ask, “How can I try to understand my mom’s point of view?”

Now, make no mistake: considering your mother’s point of view does not mean that you need to accept her experiences as excuses. Taking your mom’s experiences into account is merely a way to identify some reasons why she may have negative feelings towards you. It is not a reason to accept or cover up an abusive relationship or to justify her toxic behavior in any way. Remember, no matter what you do, you can’t change her behavior. Your mother’s behavior is her own responsibility!

However, looking through all of the possible things contributing to your mother’s experience could help you better understand how to approach her. If you want to improve your relationship with your mom, you should try first talking to your mother. Before you start talking, though, you should establish some basic ground rules for the conversation.

  • There shouldn’t be any judgment, just an explanation of honest experiences and emotions. There should be no “right” and “wrong” answers, only honest answers.
  • Both sides should aim to listen more than they speak. If you both go into the conversation open to what the other has to say, you’ll both benefit from hearing the other person out instead of being quick to get defensive.
  • Understand and accept that you can’t change your mother or her behavior. No matter how much you listen or agree in a conversation, how your mother changes or refuses to change her behavior is entirely up to her. While you can encourage healthy and forward-thinking dialogue, you can’t be responsible for your mother’s behavior.

The thought of starting up these conversations with your mom may seem intimidating or even impossible. If that’s the case, you should consider getting some professional help from talking to your mother. Many counselors and therapists are specially trained in family home issues and can sit down with you and your mom together to start working through your relationship problems.

Step by step, and with a lot of understanding and patience from both sides, it’s possible to work towards a better relationship with your mother.

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