Growing up with a toxic mom is no easy thing. It's something that can make you second-guess yourself, feel like you always fall short and will never measure up, and have really long-lasting consequences. And though, as an adult, you might be able to live apart from her and just generally have much more control over the relationship, it's not much easier to deal with having a toxic mom at that stage of your life either. But how can you know if your mom is toxic or not? Your mom is toxic if she ever says these things to you, and knowing that that's what was going on in the relationship and why it was the way that it was is really important, not only to put things in perspective, but also to determine how best to handle the relationship and interact with her moving forward.
It can be really difficult to carry on a relationship with your mom if she's toxic, but if you do choose to continue with the relationship, it's important to have some tools in order to do so effectively. Therapists can often be very helpful when navigating a relationship with someone who is toxic or determining if it might be time to end the relationship, but if you don't have access to therapy, reflecting on how you want to move forward, limiting communication, and knowing that you don't have to give them all of the information they might want are all good strategies, The Mighty noted.
Determining whether or not the relationship might actually be toxic, however, is an important first step in figuring out what might come next.
1. "It's Your Fault That I..."
Regardless of whether you're a child or an adult, your mom shouldn't be blaming you for things that she's done or that have happened to her. In an interview with Bustle, Sara Stanizai, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said that blaming you for her issues is a definite sign that the relationship might be toxic.
2. "Can't You Do Anything Right?"
Of course you're going to sometimes make mistakes, and of course, sometimes, your mom might be a little bit critical, but you don't always make mistakes and if she is unable to recognize the good things that you do or celebrate your accomplishments, that's another sign that she might be toxic. Lifehack noted that this kind of behavior can cause long-lasting self-doubt on the part of the child.
3. "You Should Be More Like..."
Your mom or another family member or friend might jokingly ask why you can't be more like someone else every so often, but serious comparisons aren't OK. Karen Young of Hey Sigmund noted that this extreme criticism and making you feel like you're not good enough is toxic — and can sometimes tempt you to believe that what your mom is saying is actually true. It's not.
4. "Don't You Know How Much I've Given Up?"
Yes, many parents make decisions that they think are in their child's best interests, even if that means that they're not what they'd prefer, but if your mom regularly tries to guilt you for that, that's another sign that there's some toxicity there. HealthyWay noted that guilt is a way that toxic moms manipulate and control you. But you're an adult and you should feel confident in your abilities to make your own decisions.
5. "You Always..."
Chances are, you don't "always" do anything. So if your mom regularly starts sentences designed to blame, guilt, or criticize you by saying that you "always" do something, that's another sign that she might be toxic. Too much guilt and criticism are tell-tale signs that the relationship isn't a healthy one, as the previously-mentioned article from Lifehack noted.
6. "You're Always With Them Instead Of With Me"
It's natural for you to spend time with people other than your mom, whether you're a kid or an adult. In an interview with Bustle for the aforementioned article, Dr. Danielle Forshee, a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, said that this sort of thing, in which she can't handle that you have relationships with other people, is called "enmeshment."
7. "That Outfit Is Terrible; Why Do You Insist On Wearing That Cut?"
Again, comments like this one about your appearance are toxic because they're overly critical. As the aforementioned article from HealthyWay noted, toxic moms view your appearance as reflecting on them, so if they don't think you look good, they also think that makes them look bad.
Recognizing that your mom might be toxic is the first step, but once you do that, you have to decide how you're going to proceed. Though the right answer is different for everyone, what's most important is that you're taking care of yourself and getting any and all support that you may need.