Mom and Grandma had a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship

dysfunctional mother daughter relationship
From Surviving to Thriving

Through  the comments discussion on my recent post “My Value and Learning to Love MY Self” here on Emerging from Broken, Lynda recently asked me the following question and since it is such a popular question I thought I would answer it in a post all its own. 

Lynda says: Darlene,
“I’m so sorry your mother treated you the way she did. What I DON’T understand… if your mother’s mother treated her that way, why did she do the same to you? I was just the opposite, always trying to give my children the love and encouragement and affirmation that I never got from my mother.”

This is the realization that I finally came to when it came to my own kids; that I had a choice and I actively decided to pursue something different for my children. But the truth is that my mother made the same choice, she actually did do better by me then what was done to her in her own dysfunctional relationship she had with her mother and I think she thought that it was enough. We were fed and clothed better than her and her siblings were. We were clean and had clean clothing, bedding and nutritious food. But the love was missing. I was emotionally neglected. I was not heard. I was not acceptable. I was not encouraged to be an individual or  regarded with equal value. Her own issues were way too much in the way and we ended up having a very dysfunctional mother daughter relationship very similar to the same dysfunctional mother daughter relationship that my mother had with her mother. Continued….

My mother didn’t do her own emotional healing work. And I let the traumatic childhood that she had be the excuse for never being able to stand up to her or to draw boundaries and therefore as an adult, I ended up sacrificing my own value. (which was really easy because I had learned to do that all my life anyway, and I had come to believe that I didn’t HAVE equal value to anyone else)  As a child, I had no choice, and as an adult I didn’t KNOW that I had a choice. I sacrificed my own recovery in order to make excuses for her issues. And in doing that, my children grew up (until about 5 years ago) seeing my mother treat me as though I was “less than” and they saw my mother and also my in-laws and lots of other people walk all over me and they saw me accept that treatment, accept the blame for it and continually try harder.

It was the psychological abuse stuff that didn’t change in my adult relationship with my mother. Our mother daughter relationship was dysfunctional mostly because It was all about her. The power and control dynamics were still in place; that belief that if you place children as equally valuable to yourself, that you risk them walking all over you. My mother had equal value mixed up with equal authority. And I never did receive equal value OR equal authority because she had her definition of respect mixed up.  Today I realize that it is wrong to take that attitude with children, but my mother took that attitude all throughout our relationship. My mother didn’t do the emotional healing work that I did which made the biggest difference to the way that my life is now, and to the functional parent child relationships that I have with my children today. 

I vowed when I was 15 years old that I would NEVER be like my mother. That vow consumed my life and eventually I had to look at what that vow meant. It meant different things to me at different times of my life. I asked myself what specifically did I not want to do in the ways that my mother did them when it came to being a parent.  I had a list of things such as that I would never treat them like they were born to serve me or validate me. I would never take my daughters to bars to attract men. I would never flirt with their boyfriends. I would never humiliate them in front of other people. I would protect them. I had to realize that those things were wrong things to do.

But there were other things that were not as easy to define as “wrong”.  How would I make sure that I didn’t devalue my children? How would I raise them differently then I had been raised. Where would I get the knowledge to raise them differently so that I would I NOT have dysfunctional parent child relationships?  I had to start searching for answers, searching for better ways, loving ways, nurturing ways. But the point is that when I started searching. I was nowhere close to whole when I had my kids.  I was lost and feeling my way around in the dark. I was broken and struggling with depressions. So for some of the changes to my parenting style, it took the process of emotional healing that I write about here in “emerging from broken” to really change things because I didn’t know how to validate myself in the first place, how would I validate them? I was in the fog about so many things.  

A comforting thing for me has been to realize that was was not through understanding my Mother, or even understanding our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship, that emotional healing came about. It was through sorting through the things that happened to me. It was through examining what I came to believe about myself because of emotional and physical trauma. It was through realizing how I came to believe that I was not worthy and that I was less valuable than others. I recovered as I took my life back. I took my life back when I realized that I did not cause my own problems. Not for the purpose of assigning blame, but for the purpose of stating the truth. I love the idea that everyone has issues, and that my parents were not perfect, but knowing that and accepting that is NOT what helped me to heal. I was TOLD who I was and I believed it. But that is not who I was and it is not who I am.  I had to take my life back and restore the truth about me~ that is what set me free.

Please feel free to share. You do not have to use your real name. There have been some concerns lately about facebook privacy. The comments in this blog are not connected to facebook, or to the Emerging from Broken facebook page. These comments are only visible on this blog.

Exposing Truth ~ one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

Related Posts ~ Conflicting feelings of Rejection when the Abuser Withdraws

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135 response to "Mom and Grandma had a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship"

  1. By: Renee Posted: 7th March

    Hi Chandra! Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, Darlene is a great friend and fellow N-Warrior. We are all part of the same community and many of us N-Warriors keep in touch, read each other’s blogs, compare notes,etc. (apparently the trolls are a little slow to figure this out lol). I’m so thankful the Lord has set you free and we could be a blessing to you. Thank you for blessing me today <3

  2. By: Chandra Posted: 7th March

    I have to jump in – Renee!!! It’s you!! I went to look at that link and then read the author and realized you were Sister Renee from Luke 17 site. Your website is so absolutely wonderful. I’m a rather liberal Christian, and have been so freed since my FOO went NC with me almost 3 years ago. ( I wasn’t giving them the deference they’d come to expect.) However, DH’s family are very strong fundamentalist-style Christians, and they were very upset with me for not “making things right” with my abusive family. DH was able to use information from your website to reassure his family that I was doing the right thing by not “crawling back” and begging my FOO to love me again. I’m so happy to see both Renee and Darlene writing in the same thread! You both have been lifesavers — throwing a rope (a safe one, a strong one, a loving one) to a drowning person. Thank you!!!

  3. By: Deb Posted: 6th March

    Thanks, Darlene! I am even more amazed that people can set up trolls to try to destroy years of work and the reputation of people who live to help others to be free and to live a wonderful life of wholeness! That is insidious, mean spirited, and just evil!

    My sentiments exactly concerning the church! I have not attended the church for ten years after a 30 year intense dedicated service in almost every ministry/service I could be involved with. Now, certain family members who were not attending when I did and now are, deem me as demonized. My Dad said the other day that he hoped I could make it back to the Lord. I asked him if he was judging me. He changed the subject and began angrily berating me very loudly and I had to take my first strong stand against him. Something I have never done in my entire life. Very shocking! I have separated myself from my parents, now, which is sad for them because of their ages. I have not lost anything because I did not have anything in the first place regarding their respect and love. I do not feel sad. In fact, I feel more free than ever! So, who is demonized? Strange behavior from the ones who deem me lost! 🙂

    I still have to think very hard about the logic of honoring your parents and forgiveness. Sorting through the false ideas embedded in my mind about these teachings and others is difficult sometimes especially when challenged.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th March

      Thanks for the info Renee! That is the same person.

      Hi Deb
      Welcome to EFB ~ OB1 is a troll and appartently likes to stir the pot. I don’t think he/she has anything valid to say here.
      Thank you for sharing your story with us. The Christian school (and church) system also did a fair amount of damage to my 3 children and it has been huge trying to overcome it. I told the church that I was a better Christian without ‘fellowship’ or the church. and I love the message of Christ, but wow they sure messed it up and I don’t follow ‘mans message’ any more.
      Love your comments, thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Deb Posted: 6th March

    I am amazed that people can think and dare to assess others like OB1. I agree that OB1 has control issues as he reminds me of my own father, a military man. I am 62 years old, now, and my father is 85. He and my mother still assume a false entitlement over me. They demand respect when they do not deserve it. They have been emotionally abusive all my life by denigrating me and berating me and my family. Although, we have not allowed them to control us, it took a great effort of time and realization of what has/had happened to me in my life and how to break free. I constantly examined myself feeling as though I were wrong. I lived under the cloud of “guilt and shame” among a few other self-degrading issues. (I was raped at 15 and impregnated. They raised my child in a lie and I recently disclosed the truth to my child) I felt like a failure my whole life. I felt as though I had to constantly prove my worth to them but they constantly showed their disapproval. It would take me ten pages to write about their “extreme narcissism.” I recently had therapy with a psychologist as I thought that I was the crazy one and I was told that I was perfectly sane. I found that I am easy prey for controllers. I have managed to live a successful, fruitful life and lived a great deal of it under Christian belief systems. Not all that I learned under the belief system of Christianity was helpful but it parented me in many ways. I recently made a break of the Christian church as many of the leaders are controllers preying on the unsuspecting person. That system did a fair amount of damage to my five children, who range in age from 24 ? 40. I have always had difficulty with understanding authority in terms of my own validity and equality until I recently understood how to assert myself. In the midst of a very difficult extended family issue, I had to make a strong stand to my father as he was screaming at me and berating me. I realize he is 85 but he is an unusually cognitive and physically strong man of 85 and is in complete control of his mental faculties. Both he and my mother are very manipulative and self-centered. At this time in my life, I feel for the first time that I am an individual in my own right and that I am detached from my parents as an individual. I am just as valid as they are in my own perspective of life and as equal as they are. They would not and do not treat their friends as they do me. In fact, they do not treat my younger sister the way they treat me. A long story short, I have the ability to walk away with no regrets. I have the capacity to forgive but I will not until I am healed enough to do so. I have extended written forgiveness to my parents but they misunderstand and use it as a license to continue their bad behavior. They write letters that are huge behavior disclaimers for themselves and demand respect. I have learned a lot about forgiveness and what that truly means. I think some people think of it as a magic way to absolve and dissolve issues. But that is not so. I know that I can forgive if I choose but reconciliation is another complete aspect of its own. My children as adults have been able to process the immediate family and extended family issues but not until after some trial of struggle. The older ones had the most difficulty as their grandparents had more control of them. When my children talk to me about their perspectives and their emotions even if it is something about me, I listen to them with empathy and they in turn listen to me. We don’t try to vindicate ourselves or judge each other but listen with respect and empathy as we share our feelings. We are able to move on because we are able to acknowledge and own our wrongness to each other and then it is truly forgotten and never brought up again. My 27 year old daughter says, “There is my perspective and there is your perspective and then there is the truth!”

  5. By: Karen Posted: 6th March

    can see you for who *you* are. We don’t know whether they’re afraid to trust you, or just don’t know how to be close with you again. Forgive yourself all the more, and reach out to others for validation and love. When the time is right, they and you will be in just the right circumstances to connect again.

    You’re not alone though-many many mothers are hurt, devastated because they can barely speak to their grown kids…I can’t know what’s to be for you,but I just *know* things will get better. Take a step back from the kids, but don’t stop loving and hoping and forgiving.
    I don’t know your spiritual beliefs,but I pray for those I wish I could show my love to but can’t. And whoever God or Goddess is for you- Im not religious,I just feel there’s a God or Great Spirit that can give them the love I can’t share with them yet. If that’s not an appalling idea to you, anyway I find it helps me let go more. 🙂 Good luck and much love to you!

  6. By: Karen Posted: 6th March

    For Mary,whose adult children keep pulling away..first, I’m so sorry that’s what they’re doing! I know it’s heartbreaking. ((((((Mary))))))
    But what I want to say is, if they back away, the more you try to communicate, my experience is that backing off for now is better. Is it possible that you still feel like a failure unless they (your kids) acknowledge and affirm that you’re
    recovered and really have changed?
    I know when *I* feel good and successful,I still feel confused and upset when someone close to me denies it- or just plain ignores how I’ve changed or avoids me.
    You’re still doing the right thing,you have still improved and grown no matter how much or how little anyone else appreciates it.
    Maybe your adult children need to get to a pointin their own lives where they

  7. By: Caden Posted: 5th March

    Thanks Karen <3 ! I love this community and how, despite one persons accusations, we have very good reading comprehension skills for recognizing and interpreting abusive speech.

  8. By: Karen R Posted: 5th March

    Two thumbs up Caden.

  9. By: Celine Posted: 5th March

    First of all, OB1, I’m not surprised you’re a man. Second of all, I’m even less surprised you were in the military. After all, they teach you how to stuff your feelings and emotions down so well that all you let show to the world is this robot like man who spews repressed anger on a website where everybody is healing. You have your own opinions indeed. They are not right, they are not wrong, they just ARE. What gets me is the zero tolerance for the powerful work Darlene has been doing here. Work that is helping many tremendously. I know that denial is bliss, but I wish you would try to open your mind and see the many different colors life has to offer. If not, that’s ok too. But I will then ask of you to respect this website that is our sanctuary. Namaste.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th March

      Hi Everyone
      I ran out of time to answer comments on this yesterday! Please accept my apologies but thank you all for responding. There are so many things that I would like to say one of which is that I don’t usually publish comments like the one from OB1 but for some reason this time I did and I realize that it was a mistake. I have no idea why people who feel that way are on MY blog and facebook page. Surely there are far more places on the internet that stick up for abusive parents than there are places for people trying to take their lives back from abusive parents.
      I am honored by all of your supportive comments. Thank you all so much!
      hugs and love, Darlene

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