For many people, the things that their mom says to them matter a lot. Her statements can really affect you, for better or for worse. And since she's human, she might not always say things that are phrased the right way, or she might let her emotions or the circumstances of the situation get the best of her. But if your mom ever says these things, it's actually abusive, not just something that might sting you for a moment and then pass or something that can just be brushed off.
There are many things that your mom (or anyone else) could say to you that would qualify as abusive, but some are more obvious than others. In some cases, you might be surprised to learn that some insults or seemingly off-handed remarks can be abusive. Statements that are belittling, bullying, blaming, bashing, or something else that's so negative and hurtful can all be considered abusive, Lauren Dummit, LMFT, CSAT, the clinical director and cofounder of Triune Therapy Group, tells Romper by email. These comments are damaging and hearing them from your mom or someone else who should love you and who you should trust can be especially difficult. If you hear these kinds of comments from your mom, turning to a therapist and encouraging her to get help too can make a real difference.
1"No One Will Ever Marry You"
This kind of comment is, of course, upsetting. Regardless of your feelings on marriage, hearing your mom say that no one could ever want you can feel crushing. Dummit says that the purpose of a statement like this one is to exert power. "This can take the form of verbal abuse, which is a form of overt, emotional abuse, in which one uses words as weapons to caustically cut the other person and to dominate [them]," she says.
2"I Don't Remember It That Way At All"
Context matters here. But this kind of statement can be indicative of gaslighting, which is a sign of emotional abuse, as Sara Stanizai, MA, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email. Gaslighting makes you question your perception of reality and that's not something that your mom or anyone else who loves you should do.
"Shut up" just isn't a nice thing to say, generally. Dummit notes that if your mom yells this at you, it's definitely abusive. Working with a therapist to deal with your mom's lack of respect for you and anger towards you can really help.
4"I Never Should Have Had Children"
No child (even if they're no longer a child) should have to hear their mom say that she regrets having children. This kind of statement is certainly emotionally abusive. "Overtime, this pattern of abuse impairs a child’s emotional development and negatively impacts a child’s sense of self-worth," Jamie Kreiter, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Romper by email. It's not OK.
5"You're Ruining My Life"
This kind of statement blames you for all of her problems, which is not acceptable. Dr. Deborah J. Cohan, PhD, an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina — Beaufort, tells Romper by email that the things that she does to "keep people walking on eggshells" is emotionally abusive.
6"You Can't Do Anything Right"
No one wants to hear their mom say that they can't do anything right, but if she does, that's actually more abusive than just a throw-away comment that hurts your feelings a little bit. Celeste Viciere, LMHC, a licensed mental health clinician, author, and podcast host, tells Romper by email that if your mom makes you feel like you can't do anything right, that can be emotionally abusive. It's repeated criticism of everything you do and that can really wear on you.
7"You Don't Know Anything"
If your mom says anything about you being dumb, an idiot, or not knowing anything, that too is actually an abusive statement, Dummit says. She might not always agree with your choices, opinions, or behavior, but comments like these are crossing a line.
Hearing any of these things can be extremely difficult, but neither you nor your mom may have realized before that all can actually be abusive. Seeking the help of a qualified therapist can give you the support you need as you work through the damage done by these comments, and encouraging that your mom get help herself might help you both in the long-run.