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The Enmeshed Mother: A Daughter Trapped

knotsWhile the daughter of a dismissive mother suffers because she’s ignored and can end up caught in a cycle of behaviors meant to elicit her mother’s attention—either highly constructive or destructive or both—the enmeshed daughter disappears in the hot glare of her mother’s attention.

3 thoughts on “The Enmeshed Mother: A Daughter Trapped

  • May 4, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Up until I was 14 years of age my mother was very dismissive towards me… she didn’t understand me… I was odd. (I know now I have Aspergers syndrome).. At age 14 my mothers twin sister stood up for me and since that age my mother made a 180 degree turn and became an enmeshed mother. I tried to break free from her but somehow I never succeeded. I realize I kept looking for mother figures in my life.. In 2007 age 40 I moved in with my mother again after the somaniest failure… My mother died in 2015. Finally free…accept.. I don’t feel free… I had to look for psychological help (which I already needed years ago)…
    Thanks for your article!

  • September 20, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for this article. I am a father, co-parenting a 10 year old daughter who has an enmeshed relationship with her mom, with whom she lives half the time. According to the mother’s account, my daughter experiences anxiety and sobs for hours leading up to the transition to my house. Then when she arrives at my house, I have fun activities planned and I attune to her and we have fun and she settles. But as bedtime approaches, the tears return (she still co-sleeps with Mom, not with Dad).

    I have not found any resources on how to support a child in this situation. The obvious solution would be to treat the problem at the root and do co-parenting therapy and therapy for the mother, but the mother deems my daughter’s anxiety to be solely caused by her not being with her mother, and my not supporting them being in constant contact. Any suggestions on resources to help my daughter? Thank you

    • September 20, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      Hi John, I’m not a psychologist or therapist. I think you should talk to a therapist who is expert both in childhood development and attachment theory. As just a layperson and someone who was a single, divorced mother from the time my daughter was 8 (she’s now 30), 10 is too old to co-sleep on a regular basis. (A teenager who’s sick or just got turned down by the college of her choice can revert in my opinion for a night just so you know I’m not against co-sleeping generally.) Why is she sleeping with Mom? Who is it soothing? Anyway, please talk to a therapist and good luck. Best, Peg


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