Comments on
4 Signs You Have A Mommie-Dearest Parent


Photo Credit: Pexels

Have you ever seen the movie Mommie Dearest? Do you remember the scene where  she awakened her adopted children by screaming, crying, and having a temper tantrum over iron vs. plastic hangers? The emotional intensity, the roller-coaster mood swings, and the self-centeredness of her anger frightened her children. Sadly, her emotional lability didn’t stop here:

This article will discuss the 4 types of emotionally immature parents that Dr. Gibson mentions in her book. You can find my review of her book on PsychCentral.com

6 Comments to
4 Signs You Have A Mommie-Dearest Parent

The comments below begin with the oldest comments first. (If there's more than one page, click on the last comments page to jump to the most recent comments.) Jump to reply form.

  1. Hi Tamara,
    I’m not sure what-if any category my mom would fit in. There is probably some blending there as well as areas where it does not apply to her at all.
    She is older now – just turned 76 but it seems in many ways I have always been the parent figure to her because I was put in that role early on. (On her part, I don’t feel that this was conscious–at least not initially.) Also, since I did a lot of babysitting for my younger siblings, they too seemed to see me as a mother figure at times.
    My mom was/is never mean or cruel and in some ways was very overprotective, but she feared dangers outside the home rather than opening her eyes to the fact that danger lived with us and that on any given day, I would have been and felt much safer on the streets or at the mall than I was at home with her husband!
    She is definitely way too enmeshed in our lives. Very dependant on me, will offer help and emotional support to my siblings and will ASK how I am doing but I don’t think she handles it well when I am not doing good so I don’t share that with her. Yet for my siblings, she will obsessively worry about them, try to intervene, ask about every detail and give advice on things that are really not her business.
    As she gets older she relies on me more which I understand–to a point. But 4 or 5 calls a day is a bit much!!

    • Hi Lori,
      Thank you for your thoughts. Your story is very similar to one of my current clients who was, what we call “parentified,” by her mother over the years. When you are parentified you are made to grow up fast, act as the “secondary” parent, and feel emotionally responsible for the well-being of the family unit. Some kids who grow up like this are very mature and responsible, almost so responsible that they come across as little adults. Other kids grow up and begin to struggle with substance abuse, depression and anxiety, and identity issues among a host of other challenges. I would say that 4-5 calls a day is a bit much as you put it Lori. it sounds as if your mom may have some anxiety and whatever the anxiety is, it is released when she reaches out to you or calls you repeatedly. There is definitely some dependence there but why? Perhaps things that have happened in her life has made her this way. Surely anxiety can also cause dependency.
      Take good care

      • Even your responses are so well written and thought out, Tamara — very helpful and I appreciate it!
        I immediately could identify with the explanation of kids who are so mature they seem like little adults. That was me for the most part. I remember being allowed to join my mom and her friends and extended family members that would come over to visit regularly, have coffee etc. I would be allowed to listen and even participate in some conversations (appropriate topics). People would often compliment my mother on how well I behaved and my maturity and it seems that from junior high on, I tended to gravitate towards friends who were older than me. That at times has been problematic because it sometimes felt that along with the friendship, I was looking for a mother figure. I remember if a friend’s mom, aunt or even a church member or teacher would call me “hon” or “sweetheart” as a term of endearment, I would form almost an instant attachment as a young person. Sounds crazy!
        My mom is worse with her neediness as she ages. She has anxiety and fears around aging and death, health related concerns and is extremely lonely and unhappy in her marriage. Her husband treats her with indifference and at times outright sarcasm, hostility or anger. She wants to divorce and move back to this area but lives on a very limited income. He has always been greedy with his money even though he had plenty of it when she met him and well into their marriage whereas she has very little but has always been generous. It’s sad… I know she’d like to live with me but I have an anxiety attack just thinking about it due to the clinging dependency and also issues from the past. Plus she has very weak boundaries and I don’t want my abuser in my home — she would allow that because he lives with my brother and they travel to family events together.

  2. I believe my mother falls into 3 of the 4 categories. I was adopted, it’s like I’ve always known. Before she gave birth to her own child, I would hear how lucky I was “because she picked me out of all those other babies”. She divorced my father and remarried an abusive alcoholic, who really never liked me, from the ripe old age of 4. Once my brother came, that was said less and less being replaced with more of a regret for taking me. Overtime, I became the reason for everything that went wrong with anything. If my parent fought, it was over me, if they had a bad day, because of me, he drank because of me, etc.
    Fast forward 20+years and I am now a single mother of 3. My oldest child is now 16. I was young (21) and her father was not a good canadite for fatherly material and I ended up moving back in with them. She is the first grandchild and they really seemed to have a bond with her that I believed was sincere.
    16 years later, I am able to see they use my daughter as a weapon against me. Almost as if this some kind of sick twisted game and each move scores points. Since 2014 I have been slowly cutting her out of my life and July 2017 was the final straw and I have successfully stopped going to her house, talking to her daily, spending holidays, etc. I will allow the children to see them if they ask but it is only brief periods every now and then. Despite her saying her grandchildren mean the world to her and she’d die for them, she doesn’t seem that interested in them. I don’t speak ill of her in front of them but I have let them know, I am unable to deal with the toxicity, mayhem and craziness that goes on out there. Unfortunately, they understand what I am talking about because it is such a loud, mean and inappropriate environment.
    That being said, my parents have had financial success in that they had good jobs, great credit and live comfortably with the best of the best. They buy people, then hold it over their head.

    I’m worried about my oldest daughter. She is unable to take any criticism in a constructive way, she instantly finds an excuse or a way it isn’t her fault. She will not take responsibility for anything she does, no matter what, not her fault. She refuses to look at the entire problem before she freaks out. At the end of the day, it seems to ALWAYS come back to be my fault.
    I have made a conscious effort since my children were born to change as a parent so that my children would never be subjected to any of the negativity I was. It is the most heart wrenching situation when my own flesh and blood, my first born treats me like the stray dog my parents treat me like. Some days it cause such conflict within myself I am completely overwhelmed emotionally. I am looking for a more contuctive positive way to deal with this situation.
    If you have any more information you think my be helpful on for me to read, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you so much for all of the information.

    • Hi Strayone,
      Thanks for your kind comment and for sharing your story.
      Have you thought of looking up Borderline Personality Disorder? You may find a lot of clues about your daughter and possibly even your mom when researching this disorder. It is important for me to highlight that not everyone with borderline personality disorder behaves in the way your daughter or mother have. But, for the most part, individuals with this personality disorder have a very hard time taking responsibility for their behaviors, controlling emotions or emotions associated with any kind of accountability, and are very sensitive to “criticism” or any kind of statements that might signal to them that they are the problem. It is a personality trait that can be passed down through generations.

      I encourage you to learn more about Borderline Personality traits by Googling it and looking into this organization: http://www.mcleanhospital.org/clinical-services/patient-and-family-resources?tab=borderline-personality-disorder-patient-and-family-education-initiative
      All the best to you

 

Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Post a Comment: